KUMBH MELA - Walking with the Nagas

Location: Allahabad, India  |  Year: Dec 2008  |   Length: 40 min

This documentary film takes place at the greatest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad, northern India. 
The Kumbh Mela festival dates back to the times before Creation when the Hindu Gods and demons were fighting in the celestial skies. As the primordial ocean of milk was churned, four drops of Amritha, the nectar of immortality, fell to Earth and landed in four Indian cities where the Kumbh Mela festival has been celebrated ever since, once every three years, rotating between the four pilgrimage sites. 
70 million people made the pilgrimage to the city of Allahabad in northern India during January and Febuary 2007 for the Ardh Kumbh Mela. Bathing where the drop of nectar fell, in the holy confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, the pilgrims cleanse their souls and seek spiritual enlightenment, attainable by the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. 
The focus of this ethnographic style documentary lies upon the Naga Sadhus, one of eight families of Hindu holy men. Worshipping Shiva, these warrior ascetics are said to have remained the same since the prehistoric past. The Nagas are an extremely reclusive family who have denounced all worldly ties and focus on the enlightenment of the self as opposed to aiding the spiritual enlightenment of a greater society. The interaction between Naga Sadhus and the public is therefore usually limited to blessings offered to those who seek it humbly. 
At the Kumbh, the Naga Sadhus lead the processions to the riverbanks on the days of the big sacred baths. Starting at midnight, the night is a freezing 3°C, but the Nagas seem untouched, marching for endless hours, covered in no more than a thin layer of holy ash.
With music by Baluji Shrivastav and Ken Barrett.
Featuring paintings by Pieter Weltevrede and the late Sri Harish Johari.