Getting lost at Maha Kumbh Mela, the world's biggest festival
ALLAHABAD (AFP) - The Maha Kumbh Mela, the world's biggest religious festival, is meant to be spiritually uplifting. But for the thousands who get lost in the swell of humanity, the experience can be terrifying.
The festival takes place on a sprawling site in northern India next to the river Ganges where as many as 20 million people are expected to cram in on the most auspicious day on Feb 10 for a bath said to cleanse them of their sins.
It's a dusty and crowded temporary city made up of tented accommodation, areas reserved for godmen and gurus, miles upon miles of walkways and vast open areas where pilgrims push and shove their way to the banks of the Ganges.
Dealing with the packed crowds is a constant problem and although mobile phones have helped to re-unite divided groups or families, the young, elderly and poor are still vulnerable when lost.