“Walking with Nagas” is one of my favourite documentaries. Centred around the 2007 the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad that I travelled to and photographed along with 70 million pilgrims searching for spiritual enlightenment.
The documentary by Julienne Rathore on the excellent Culture Unplugged website focuses on the Naga (naked) Holy men of Juna Akhara culminating in the day of the great bath, this film gives an intimate impression of the world’s largest act of faith.
Synopsis: “Walking with the Nagas” gives an intimate impression of the world’s largest act of faith, the Kumbh Mela. The festival dates back to before Creation when Hindu Gods and demons were fighting in the celestial skies. In 2007, 70 million people made the pilgrimage to Allahabad in northern India for the Ardh Kumbh Mela. Bathing in the holy confluence of three rivers, the pilgrims cleanse their souls in search of spiritual enlightenment. The focus lies upon the Naga Sadhus, one of eight families of Hindu holy men. These warrior ascetics are an extremely reclusive family who have denounced all worldly ties and focus upon self-enlightenment through meditation. At the Kumbh, the Nagas lead the processions to the riverbanks for the sacred baths. Starting at midnight, the night is a freezing 3°C, but the Nagas persist, marching for endless hours, covered in no more than a thin layer of holy ash.
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