The Kumbh Mela is happening this year. But perhaps the first time in living memory, we have a situation where the largest human congregation has to take place under the shadow of social distancing. The Kumbh Mela is all set to take place in Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh from 14 January to 27 April, albeit with a slew of restrictions.
Haridwar’s Kumbh Mela 2021: the rules
This year, pilgrims can’t take a dip in the Ganga on the four shahi snan dates like they used to. They will have to make an online appointment to bathe in the waters and secure an e-pass to enter. There’s also a time limit. Devotees can’t spend more than a few minutes in the waters.
The 107 bathing ghats will be colour-coded into red, green and yellow, according to vulnerability. The entire premise will be mapped by GIS satellites to limit large concentrations of crowds in a particular area, as per reports.
While this may be the new normal, there’s never been a time when the Kumbh Mela has been photographed without the crowds. Arguably the largest human outpouring on Earth, it attracts so many people that several movies revolving around the mela make a reference of someone getting lost in it. Even though 15 crore people are expected this year, it may still not look the same. So here are a few throwback photos that capture the crowd and the colour of the Kumbh Mela: