Lifestyle & Belief

Lost and Found at India's Kumbh Mela


Down to the river at the Kumbh Mela (Photo: Kumbh Mela 2013)


David Leveille

The mass Hindu pilgrimage called the Kumbh Mela is underway. It's the largest religious gathering anywhere.

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The BBC's Mukesh Sharma says the holiest place where pilgrims gather is right near the confluence of India's sacred rivers.

"Three rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers converge at this place," he says. "People generally go to the riverbank, perform rituals with flowers and incense sticks, then they go into the water take a few dips and offer water to the sun, that's how they pray.

Consider this: During the 55-day festival, the entire Kumbh Mela area is designated as a district. The makeshift tent city is constructed and deconstructed within weeks.

The Kumbh mela has its own police and fire station, post office, and railway depot. This year's Kumbh mela is expected to attract as many as 100 million people.

So you can imagine its easy to get lost … actually, it happens a lot.

On the biggest day of the festival, it's estimated that as many as 20,000 people will get lost or separated from their families and friends and will seek out assistance at the lost and found desk.