Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Frame: The Magh Mela

Photo © AP / Rajesh Kumar Singh- All Rights Reserved 

The Sacramento Bee's The Frame brings us more than 30 large sized photographs of the Magh Mela.

The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious pilgrimages for Hindus. In Hindu mythology, the Magh Mela's origin is said to be the beginning of the universe. It's held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Allahabad (UP).

The holy pilgrimage and festival is organized every year during the Hindu month of Magh (mid January - mid February), and is a smaller version of Kumbh Mela.

One of the photographs featured by The Frame is of the pontoon bridges that allow the pilgrims to cross to the area of the Sangam, and it reminds me (so very vividly) of my pre-dawn walks on these very same bridges during the Maha Kumbh Mela of 2001. I can still feel the sensation of being in the midst of a moving "caterpillar" of thousands of people. It was an indescribable thrill of being in such an environment with a multitude of opportunities to photograph the spectacular characters who attend such religious gatherings, that I described as "ascetics, mendicants, mystics, beggars and charlatans".

Stop a moment in sympathy at the photograph in The Frame's series in which a woman weeping as she searches for her son in the massive crowd gathering of the Magh Mela. I witnessed such scenes in 2001, and they're heart-rending. However, I was told that the majority of lost children are reunited with their families.

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