The living tapestry stretched so far and so wide that it was visible from the moon. 100 million pilgrims had come to wash away their sins at the Maha Kumbh Mela, the oldest religious festival in the world.
Part of the largest gathering of people ever were Swiss photographers Alexandra Wey, Andrée Stössel und Beat Niederer. With their impressive pictures they captured the unique atmosphere at the “Great pitcher festival” that took place from January 14 to March 10, 2013 near the town of Allahabad in the north of India.
Their photographs are complemented by explanatory texts written by Beat Niederer and Dominik Imseng: “There are women in eight-meter-long saris, and men wearing only their underpants. There are elderly men and women attending their last Maha Kumbh Mela, and children who have many more to come. There are beggars who have slept under one of the pontoon bridges, and Bollywood stars who have flown in on private jets. They all submerge themselves three times, gargle the ice-cold holy water, pray in the direction of all four points of the compass, and hope to be released from the eternal cycle of rebirth when they die so that they may experience moksha, or liberation and enlightenment.”