Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela:
– Ganga (Allahabad), Nashik (Godavari), Ujjain (Kshipra)
- an Ethnographic (Human) view of Life and Nature in the form of interactive books:

Kumbh Mela is considered to be the largest congregation of people on earth at one spot for a peaceful purpose – in this case, for pilgrimage.
But there is more yet to celebrate about the Kumbh Mela yet.
This year, the Unesco in global acknowledgement of the country’s traditions spanning the centuries indeed the millennia, has included Kumbh Mela in its “inscribed” Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
It is noteworthy that the operative word under this “inscription” has been its conferment on “Humanity,” which represents the mass of people that go about their daily lives and merit being studied by the sheer diversity of the character of its gathering.

By serendipity, here is an attempt by a Design Studio to undertake precisely such a study, albeit as a design-led exercise. Whereby, the essence of the project gets premised in the observation that things afar make you wonder, while getting close builds curiosity. And while observing, it raises questions. In a transition from experience to expression,‘ The Kumbh Mela Experience’ becomes an attempt to create an unbiased, experiential and communicative narrative that seeks to invite people to come and experience the Kumbh Melas for themselves.

The exhibit provides a comprehensive overview of the Kumbh landscape by distilling valuable information and thoughts gathered from having spent between two to six weeks at each of the three kumbhs.
Essentially, this becomes a story of a study of people of varied hues and denominations, all co-existing for those few days through a shared vision of the world, while making it into a landscape that houses diversities and contradictions, all of which converge at the flowing rivers that level these paradoxes.
As a study of people, Kumbh Mela the exhibit merits being an exercise in ethnography – the science/study of people. Technically, ethnography requires for one to locate oneself for a reasonable period of time within the milieu of the said study.
In the case of this project, data of religious and spiritual significance was gathered from saints, sages and pilgrims, complemented by practical and logistical facts gathered from organizational personnel and academicians.
‘Kumbh Mela’, the exhibit, definitely merits being on the edge of ethnography as an emerging media, with the “modern” ethnographer without much time at hand, and yet willing to give it its all to understand complex human phenomenon.


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