The Faces of Kumbh Mela

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Tue February 12, 2013 | 00:00 AM

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Mark Twain braved the long travel – and the fact that there was a major cholera outbreak in the prior Kumba Mela – writing this, based upon his experience at the 1895 festival: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”

The photos almost speak for themselves…

KM-1754-web2This gentle man graciously posed for mulitple pics

DSC01806-3Blanket as fashion accessory

KM-2109-web_0-4Next life I want to come back as a stately-looking saint like this man who welcomed us into his camp

DSC01800-5The Barfani camp leader befriended us multiple times

DSC01814-6Young men also bond in this Mela experience

KM-2091-web-7This sadhu was very curious about America

DSC01815 - 8So many looks within this montage of Indian culture

DSC02170-9This teen was the pride of his family and they asked me to take a series of his portraits

KM-2160-web-10This fellow has a future in Bollywood if he wants one

KM-2131-web-11It was very hard to get individual women to pose for a portrait – especially older women – but this charismatic lady had 5 men in tow

DSC02100-12In my upcoming post on Colors, you’ll see multiple women wearing stunning colors as a tapestry ensemble

KM-2412-web -13 I struck up a nice conversation with these two sisters that were on the back of a guru-mobile in a parade

DSC01926-14The sadhus can be strikingly garish with their cosmetics and colors; met this guy in Varanasi who was on his way to the Mela

DSC01780-15One of the friendliest people I met – he wants to visit San Francisco some day

KM-2015-web-16I wish the photo of this man and his wife wasn’t over-exposed as they made a striking couple

DSC01803-17Friends meet who haven’t seen each other in years; these two were walking down the street hand-in-hand

DSC01744 -18This friendly and wise man told me why Kumbh Mela had been important to his family for at least 6 generations

DSC01776-19Fhoola – assistant to guru Brahamrishi Maunibabaji – was so gracious in his hospitality spirit during the 4 days we spent with him and he had some of the best karmic energy I experienced at the Mela