LIFE: Rare photos from the Kumbh Mela
Few spectacles on Earth can compare to the great six-week Hindu pilgrimage, the ancient Kumbh Mela, during which literally tens of millions of people make their way to the river Ganges in order to bathe and worship. The 2013 Kumbh Mela takes place at Allahabad (Prayag) in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Sixty years ago, in 1953, LIFE photographer James Burke chronicled an earlier Kumbh Mela in a series of pictures that, for reasons lost to time, were never published in the magazine. Here, in the midst of the 2013 Kumbh Mela, LIFE.com posts a series of those images — photos that capture something of the raw intensity and almost overwhelmingly sacral nature of the celebration’s rites.
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