Sutra Foundation is pleased to present “Kumbha Mela” by Lalit Verma (Director,  Aurodhan Gallery,  Puducherry) from 14 June – 14 July  2014, at Sutra Gallery.

 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 UttarPradesh), 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.

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.

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 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.