INDIA: Maha Kumbh Mela 2013


The Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India happens once every 12 years with 2013 being considered the most auspicious gathering for 144 years. Allahabad, situated at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers is complimented by the mythical Saraswati river to form one of the most sacred places in Hindu belief and philosophy. A dip at the intersection of rivers known as the Triveni Sangam is considered to purge sins and assist one on the path to Moksha (liberation).

A “pop up megacity” as a research team from Harvard called it, the Kumbh Mela is well known for its spectacular gatherings of pilgrims and congregations of saints, seers, philosophers, gurus, preachers and disciples. An estimated 80 to 100 Million people visit during the festival’s 6 week duration beginning in mid January with the most auspicious bathing days attracting more than 7 million bathers along the banks of the rivers.

Although most media attention focuses on the rituals at the Sangam (most sacred bathing area) the temporary settlement is over 20km sq km and is one of the most complex event planning undertakings on earth with a transitory residency larger than the population of a European country with the supply of electricity, water, basic sanitation, food and a dedicated police force of 30,000. Temporary tents encampments form the core of the city with specific areas referred to as ‘Akharas’ housing the infamous Naga Sadhu contingent. This documentary intends to show the broader context of the event beyond the media frenzy surrounding the acts of devotion at the Sangam, revealing the wider perspectives of acts of pilgrimage and life in the “pop up megacity”. — Shaun Fynn


SHAUN FYNN is an acclaimed designer and photographer with a long history of advising and creating for Fortune 500 companies, NGO’s and startups. Since founding STUDIOFYNN in 1997 he has lived and practiced globally including the UK, Italy the US and India working in the areas of design, design research, design education and photo documentary.