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Mass Effect: India’s 10 Great Gatherings

Shravan Mela. Photo: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy - In the month of shravan as per the Hindu calendar, lakhs of kanwariyas collect holy water from the Ganga at Sultanganj, carry it in pots on a kanwar (sling) and walk 105km across hills and rivers to offer libations on the jyotirlinga at Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar. Saffron-clad devotees traverse the path from Bihar to Jharkhand, which becomes an unending sea of orange with chants of ‘Bol bam’ in the air.

Mass Effect: India’s 10 Great Gatherings

17 June 2013

India is a country of epic proportions. Be it people or animals, mega-meetings are the norm across the land. The Maha Kumbh Mela is the largest congregation of any kind anywhere in the world, but it isn’t the only time people come together to eat, pray and celebrate. 

Shravan Mela: 21 July to 21 August 2013

Kodava Family Hockey Festival: 14 April to 12 May 2013 - According to a local saying, a Coorg boy is born with a gun in one hand and a hockey stick in the other. Recognised by the Limca Book of Records, the month-long ‘family’ festival in April and May sees hundreds of far-flung Kodava families converge to represent their clan. 

Hornbill Festival: 1-7 December

Kabini elephant congregation: May and June - Groups of up to 500 Asian elephants—otherwise scattered through the dense forests of Nagarahole, Wayanad, Bandipur and Mudumalai—congregate to graze and bathe here in their quest for water in the dry season. 

Kila Raipur Sports Festival: First weekend of February

Saurath Mela: 20-29 June 2013 - Every year, the tiny village of Saurath in North Bihar’s Mithila region hosts a mass marriage. A unique congregation of Maithil brahmins, Saurath Sabha Gachchhi is held in an orchard donated by the Darbhanga Maharaj.

Snake boat races of Kerala: August and September

Winter migrations: January to February - Spot painted storks at the tiny village of Kokarebellur near Mysore or flamingos at Mumbai’s mudflats, Chennai’s Pallikaranai marsh and Sambhar, India’s largest inland saline lake.

Pushkar Mela: 9 to 17 November 2013 

Joydeb Mela, Kenduli: Mid-February - Held around Sankranti on the last day of Poush till the second day of Magh to celebrate the birth anniversary of the poet-saint Jaydev, the festival draws baul singers, kirtanias and wandering minstrels of Bengal. 

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