January 25, 2014

Predawn Offering

Photograph by Alex Webb, National Geographic

Before dawn during India's Maha Kumbh Mela—the largest religious festival in the world—an old woman performs puja, a ritual offering to the gods. Kumbh Mela's most devout pilgrims are often elderly. They come for the entire festival and renounce all comfort while there.

See more pictures from the February 2014 feature story “The Karma of the Crowd.”

57 comments
Shannon T
Shannon T

So devout. You have to admire that.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

Oops! I have just read on a news report, that the Kumbh Mela is only celebrated every 12 years. I did'nt know this, so sorry. j.e.s.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

You said it just right,Bev Hennager, so thank you. j.e.s.

Shane Hughes
Shane Hughes

The monochromatic color of this image is perfect for this moment. It gives it a quiet and reverent feel. Well done.

Terri Blair
Terri Blair

Like traveling back in time, amazing, it needs no words.

Tao Li
Tao Li

The color of the photo is really strange

Justin Flook
Justin Flook

The misty yellow air really adds to the mystical atmosphere that permeates throughout this shot. Love it.

David Safir
David Safir

I absolutely loved that other Elk photo, but his one is in another league. Wow, I'd pay money to own this original. Phenomenal, really, thank you for sharing this emotional luxury of color. Van Gogh would have cut of another ear to paint a rendition of this.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

Such an interesting shot at the Kumbh Mela in India. Yes, indeed this once a year happening is more than big with thousands of devotees attending.  A good picture, with the plastic basket a definate focal point. And the little brass pot such as one of many seen there, is another point that drew my eyes to the whole. j.e.s.   

Janice H.
Janice H.

Truly  "otherworldly".          The lighting seems to give it a dreamlike quality.     Strangely beautiful and powerful in it's statement!

Chudamani Akavaram
Chudamani Akavaram

The power of devotion that offers to the devotees immunity from the effects of cold and other discomforts while offering puja through the divine.

Gary Conn
Gary Conn

“The Karma of the Crowd.” by Alex Webb The National Geographic Photo of the Day:  It is great they symbolize spiritual purity and the essence of earth by cleansing in water.  For so long they were overtaken by poverty, now that the economy has improved, people need time and money to reclaim the beauty of natural resources, the water, and the earth.  Gary Conn 

Bev Hennager
Bev Hennager

For me, the picture would not be as provoking if not for the man on the right leaving the water.  The significance of him is not that he appears impoverished.  I see him as one of those rare people that has left worldly comfort behind seeking a greater truth.  The water to me is symbolic of cleansing and purification.  He is leaving the water with his head bowed walking into the erie light.  No one else is turned his way.  This picture to me is about devotion.  Often the most impoverished people are the most devout.

Abhishek Das
Abhishek Das

This is really mind blowing ....is this one was shoot in dawn light???Sir I really keen to know about it.

Dae-Yun Kim
Dae-Yun Kim

직접 가서 보는 느낌은 또 어떨까???

Sandra Hickman
Sandra Hickman

Double ditto on Bruce's comment. What also captures my eye is the poverty expressed through this photo, especially the man on the right.

Abhey Mehta
Abhey Mehta

@Sandra Hickman material poverty, spiritual poverty; elaborate the two kinds. Respectively- Objective or Subjective? which one are u talking about..?. This pic depicts the contrasting character of India's spirit. Depth of devotion to the spirit and the almighty here cannot be termed as poverty. Might be called poor in literal sense in the west, but here in India the personality and nature cannot be compared amongst each other.

Sandra Hickman
Sandra Hickman

Im not talking about spiritual poverty as they are obviously very dedicated in their devotion. I mean on the material side although I am sure that they must be happy. Everyone grows up in situations that you get used to but my heart goes out for people as a whole. I always pray for people and the circumstances in which most  live as I come across so much povert.  I am just very sensitive to people and their needs wishing that I could do more to help.

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