The 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela
Once every 12 years, millions of the world's most zealous Hindu pilgrims gather at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers near the city of Allahabad for the greatest of India's immersion rituals, the Maha Kumbh Mela. The 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela was particularly auspicious, being the first of the new millennium and coinciding with an astrological planetary alignment occurring only once every 144 years. By the time the 2001 Kumbh Mela ended on February 21st, approximately 70 million saints, sinners, Sadhus, faith healers, preachers, gurus, charlatans and devotees from across India and the world participated in perhaps the single most colossal gathering of humanity since the dawn of time.
In Hindu mythology, Gods and demons fought over the pot (Kumbh) of the divine nectar of immortality. The Gods ultimately obtained the pot of nectar, spilling some back on the earth, upon four cities in northeastern India: Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik and Haridwar. The Kumbh Mela rotates between these sites every four years. Allahabad, (the modern name of the holy city Prayag, meaning "holiest of the holy") located at the confluence of the Ganga, and Yamuna rivers is considered the most sacred and important location for the Mela.