In search of nirvana

A baba smoking pot from a golden chillum as he sets out for the ritual bathing at around 4.00 a.m
A trishul-carrying apprentice poses dramatically while taking a dip in the Shipra.
A yogi, surrounded by other bathers, splashes holy water on the camera as a blessing during the ritual bathing.
A Naga sadhu. No one seems to know where they came from and where they will go next.
A Kali-bhakt sadhu takes some rest. Soon it will be time to wake up and interact with people and bless them.
Student sadhus, fully covered with smeared ash, prepare the tent at 6.00 a.m. before their guru wakes up
The solitary life of a sadhvi, as she prepares the fire for the meal at Bhooki Mata ghat

The Simhastha Kumbh, which takes place every 12 years in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, draws millions. Its origin, according to myth, is the ‘ samudra manthan’ or ‘churning of the ocean’, when gods and demons battled to get the nectar of immortality. During the skirmish, drops of the nectar fell from the pot or kumbh on Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain. The Kumbh Melas celebrate this. It began in the 18th century when Maratha ruler Ranoji Shinde invited ascetics from Nashik to Ujjain. On the full moon day of the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April), believers bathe in the waters of the river Shipra. The festival continues until the full moon of the next month. This year 7.5 crore people went to Ujjain for the mela.

Karan Luthra is a biotechnologist-turned-photographer who loves animals, adventure and spirituality.

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