Published Date:

July 3, 2014

Sutra Foundation presents
Kumbha Mela
Exhibition of photographs
by Lalit Verma (Director, Aurodhan Gallery, Puducherry)
Sutra Gallery
14 June – 14 July, 2014

Blessing of a Naga Sadhu

Blessing of a Naga Sadhu

Spirituality, a hallmark of Indian tradition, expresses itself in colourful
religious festivals along the banks of sacred rivers and temples. The most
important of these, the Kumbh Mela or the ‘festival of the pot’, is one of
the largest religious gatherings of the world. It finds its origin in the story
of the Samudra Manthan where the Gods and Demons churned the Milky
Ocean to obtain a pot of Amrita, the elixir of immortality. A twelve-year
battle followed for the pot of nectar that emerged during which four
drops of nectar fell on four places on earth, Allahabad (Prayag, in Uttar
Pradesh), Haridwar (Uttarakand), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and Nasik
(Maharastra). Each site became a sacred pilgrim place where the Kumbh
Mela rotates once every 12 years on 4 astrologically auspicious dates.
During these Melas, millions of pilgrims from gurus and sadhus, to
villagers and tourists, throng on the banks of the Ganga to engage in
religious debate and discourse, to sing, pray, eat and serve together.
Most importantly they bathe in her holy waters during the ‘Shahi Snan’
(‘Royal Bath’), when the water is said to turn to ‘Amrita’, to purify their
sins as well as those of their forefathers and liberate them from the cycle
of rebirth.
The Naga Sadhus (or Naga Babas), who have the privilege of taking the
first dip during the Shahi Snan, attract special attention with their naked
bodies smeared with ash, knotted hair, wearing healing Rudraksha bead
necklaces and smoking chillum, marijuana, in clay pots to attain nirvana
or liberation.
In 2010, this festival was held in Haridwar, on the banks of the Ganga
from 14th January till 28th April. Lalit Verma share with us some unique
moments that bring alive the religious fervor and mystical spirit of the
Kumbh Mela.kumbha
Lalit VERMA, an ex-TATA executive, founded one of the prestigious Art  Galleries of India (Aurodhan). He has curated several shows all over the  world and also hosted shows of some leading artists in his Gallery.

His introduction as a photographer is best described by the comment of the world renowned Mary Ellen Mark, “Beautiful work by a man who loves and understands India. Bravo!”. He has done several photographic shows nationally and internationally and is presenting here a selection of some memorable photos of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 2010.

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