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The Greatest Gathering, Kumbh Mela, India

At the foot of the Himalayan Mountains in Northern India I spent the last few days documenting the greatest gathering of humanity, the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage and cleansing ritual that takes place every 12 years along the Ganges River. Originating in Hardiwar and moving further into the mountains to an ashram in Rishikesh, I was witness to something no words, photos or film can truly convey. Incense filled the air as did shouting and the shrill call of 20,000 police whistles that kept the nearly 16 million Ganges bathers moving. Unfortunately in a gathering of this size, a stampede broke out killing four not far from my own base camp. The intensity of the situation aside, the event was remarkable and a lifetime experience. Dedication beyond words was witnessed in the people here as they packed into trains, riding on the roof or in between cars or on luggage racks with a sweltering heat over 105 degrees fahrenheit further exacerbating the situation. People slept everywhere, on every bare inch of ground, in the shade of every sign, tree or car. Below are some of my first images from gathering.