30 million took holy dip. 30 died.

30 people were killed in a stampede at Kumbh, the Hindu religious festival.

30 million Hindus took dip at the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical as well as invisible Saraswati believing to have their sins washed away. More than 30 people died in a stampede at Kumbh. God should have saved the lives of devotees. Some children died too. Why did God kill them?

Many people die in stampedes at Kumbh and Hajj.

I am so lucky! I do not need to go to kaba or Kumbh, because I do not commit sins.


The more sins you commit, the more your fears grow.

Hindus believe some rivers in India are holy, even though those rivers are dangerously polluted. Many famous artists, writers, film makers, filthy rich were at Kumbh today. They believe their sins will be washed away if they immerse themselves in those so called holy rivers. Kumbh is like Kaba, Muslims believe if their perform hajj by orbiting kaba, all their sins will be forgiven.

If most people in the world were sane, religion would have been dead long ago.


  1. says

    With respect, 30 million would have been impossible in a single day. The Kumbh Mela continues until 25th February when an estimated 20 million Hindus will have bathed in the so-called holy waters. And yes, like your good self, I am happy I do not need to do so.

  2. Agni_B says

    30 million people happy to perform the Kumbh Mela which is an ancient cultural ritual of ‘Bharat’ None is forced to join it

    It is purely spiritual in nature , can’t be compared with any other faith or custom. Christian copied and made it into baptism All Indians must work diligently to preserve the Vedic culture to save India from barbarism.

    Bathing in the Ganga is symbolic of washing away the ‘old’ mind and its way of thinking, and beginning afresh with a ‘new’ mind and attitude.
    The Kumbh helps the aam admi to transform where distinctions between you-and-I blur to finally become one whole.

    Should be held every year

    • says

      The problem is you want to replace barbarism with barbarism. You want to defeat fundamentalism of different faiths by your own superstition. I think the best way to fight all kinds of barbarism, fundamentalism, superstition is by science and reason.

      • Agni_B says

        How did u discover barbarism in Kumbh Mela ,which whole world failed to spot for the last 5000 yrs or more? Very weird and thoughtless statement indeed. Just gobsmacked.

        All believes can be regarded as superstitious including your own believes in Atheism – which also lacks science & reason.

        It is a cultural heritage of Vedic India. (regardless of its scientific value) which enhance millions of people spiritual need and they are happy. It would be imprudent to consider your opinion is the universal truth.

        • says

          I did not say there was barbarism in Kumbh Mela. But there were barbarism in caste, sati, dowry, widow systems. Those had to be abolished. But lots of people still support inequalities and injustices against lower caste and women.

          FYI, Atheism is nothing but a pile of science and reason.

          • Agni_B says

            Your Blog is about Khumb Mela -not merits and demerits of Hindu social custom

            Indian constitution superseded old religious social order –implementation & PPl attitude changing every day & In democracy it takes time.

            Inequality exist all countries and societies ,disadvantaged ppl has to suffer.- Lots of ppl also fight for woman’s (poor) right including man.

            Muslims also believe Islam is piled with science and reason, like you. Both can’t prove anything

        • says

          How did u discover barbarism in Kumbh Mela ,which whole world failed to spot for the last 5000 yrs or more?

          What, no one ever called a religious custom barbaric for the whole of its history until Taslima showed up? I find that hard to believe, since the ancient Greeks (at least) have been questioning primitive and/or irrational religious traditions since the dawn of Western civilization. (In fact, Greeks questioning superstition pretty much CAUSED the dawn of Western civilization.)

          And yes, a tradition that routinely involves dangerous stampedes and immersion in polluted water IS pretty barbaric. Not to belittle Taslima, but I’m pretty sure she’s not the first person ever to say something like this.

  3. says

    I know crowds are the norm in India, but I truly wonder if the estimated 30 million bathing in a single day (as also reported by al Jazeera) is correct. ie more than gross population of Australia in 24 hours. Anyway, does it really matter? The main thing is the belief that it purifies the soul.

    Thank you.

  4. says

    You note the 30 people who died in the stampede, and that is a big problem. But can we also try to estimate the number of people who will die and the number that will become ill by deliberately bathing in contaminated water?

    I don’t know what the water quality was like at the confluence during this particular Kumbh Mela, but Wikipedia informs me that the Ganges is one of the most polluted waterways in the world. Levels of bacterial contamination at Varanasi are usually at more than 100 times safe limits.

    Granted, 30 million people bathing in the river over a few days will lead to far fewer cases than the millions who use unpurified water from the river for drinking and washing year-round. But if the number of infections is roughly proportional to the time spent in the water, there should be thousands of cases of disease (cholera?, dysentery?, hep A?, typhoid?) that result from this ritual. And how many of them then die?

    The religious concerns aside, shouldn’t the bathing be put on hold until the river is cleaned up?

    • says

      I clarify myself: You are quite correct to point out the problems with the religious ideas that to millions of people thinking they are guilty of some metaphysical wrong that will be redeemed only by swimming in the river. I merely point out that stampedes are not the only danger from lots of people congregating to bath in dirty water.

  5. says

    Absolutely Michael, I did not even go there — ie. how many will die from disease as a result of this mass bathing but yr point about how many Indians contract disease from simply drinking contaminated water is pertinent.
    Far from being a purifier, the Ganga, certainly at Varanasi, is the most polluted river in the world. But tell that to
    the believers.

    A final point might be to question how many educated Indians participate in the Kumbh Mela?

    Thank you.

  6. left0ver1under says

    [T]hose rivers are dangerously polluted.

    I would have made that point if you hadn’t. How many more people will become sick after “bathing” in it, not just killed by the crowding? It’s like taking a “bath” in the Hudson River or the ocean off of Sendai, Japan.

    One has to wonder if any deaths of children were actually deliberate infanticide of girls.

      • says

        >>They are not bathing or swimming inside water<<

        Beg pardon, but I _have_ done a little reading about the festival.

        Here is what Wikipedia and its sources have to say about Kumbh Mela:

        “The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town it is being held that is, Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nasik, Kshipra in Ujjain and Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati) in Allahabad (Prayag)”

        And isn’t the usual form of ritual bathing in Hinduism immersion of the entire body?

        As I said above, the number of cases of disease from the festival is small in comparison to the number of cases that happen because people are using dirty water for drinking and washing on a daily basis. But it is still quite high. A very approximate calculation says that it is measured in the per-ten-thousands of the number of bathers. And a few of them will die as a result of that.

  7. says

    Considering that on average 1265 people per 30,000,000 die every day if their avg life span is 65yrs, then yes, I would say that having only 30 dying means something very unusual is going on.
    Maybe 30 died by being crushed, but there must be thousands of them dropping every day due to the physical stress of being in such a crowded situation + natural causes.
    Let’s not forget the bodily functions that everyone has to take care of every so often, and that is sounding like a very filthy environment, bleck!

  8. says

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock at the episode and said in a public statement: “I am deeply shocked to learn of the unfortunate incident at the Allahabad Railway station today, in which precious lives have been lost and many pilgrims to Kumbh Mela among other people have been injured.”

    Fuck, India is the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women, and I’m sure a fuck of a lot more than 30 die every day due to violence, let alone having acid thrown on them, rape, domestic violence, infanticide, etc., etc.

    I mean, sure, 30 being killed on a train platform is bad, but it’s another blip against the backdrop of the violence happening over there every day, not to mention the poverty and shit(yes).

    Here we go: INDIA: 60 Registered Rapes a Day
    Soumya was her family’s breadwinner and had been travelling home from work in Kochi city when a notorious youth reportedly dragged her from the women’s compartment, pushed her out, smashed her head with a stone and raped her.

    Soumya died five days later.

    What happened to Soumya is not an isolated sexual horror. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says rape is the fastest growing crime in India, with a spike in the number of cases reported for January and February 2011.

    According to the NCRB, a total of 21,397 rape incidents were reported countrywide in 2009. There were also more than 25,000 cases of kidnapping and abduction of women, aside from cases of molestation which numbered more than 38,000.

    In 1990, the number of reported rape cases was 10,068, a figure which jumped to 16,496 in 2000.

    Yeah, even that filthy water would be cleaner than some of the sin that get’s washed away. How Holy they are, cleansing themselves, and then back to the war on women. Selfish hypocrites.

  9. Hindu says

    Six Sigma stands for 3.66 defects per one million opportunities. It seems that the standard of Kumbh festival is better than Six Sigma, only one defect out of 1 million.

    • says


      “six sigma” refers to a probability distribution function where failures are more than 6 standard deviations ( = sigma in statistics terminology) from the mean.

      Those 30 people died as the result of the stampede, and many more will become ill and a few more will die from the water being polluted. If there was no festival, they would not have died. Given 30 million people, 1260 should die every day if they were a random selection of the Indian population. They weren’t a random sample – people who were too ill to travel didn’t go to the festival. So the actual number of expected deaths would be lower. Say you expected 1000 deaths. There would be some day-to-day variation in that number, depending on the weather and a lot of other things, but the standard deviation of it will be just about the square root of 1000 – that is 31.6.

      The stampede is just about a 1-sigma excess in the number of deaths. The deaths from polluted water are _also_ about 1-sigma. That is to say that there is a 2-sigma excess in the number of deaths, and 19 years out of 20 more people will die during the festival than you’d expect. The excess in the number of illnesses is far higher, and even more statistically significant.

      If the river were clean and there was good traffic control, then the number of excess deaths and illness would be far less and not significant, and you could actually say, as you incorrectly assert below, that the festival harmed no one.

      I am not qualified to have opinions on the cultural parts of this. I merely know a little about disease and quite a bit more about statistics.

      • Hindu says

        Your concept of Six Sigma needs improvement.

        People do die or get infected or get some diseases everyday, you blame it to industrialization and dominance of human over other animals. More than 200 people were killed in Brazil in a night club, would you condemn night clubs or you would condemn the management authority? People do get side effects of taking any medicine, would you condemn treatments? Any new invention creates a new challenge and increases the burden on environment or on earth, would you condemn that as well? People do die while travelling, what would you say about that?

        Dedicate your time and efforts to those evil doings of fanatics who are killing people or persecuting others in the name of religion, that way you will serve your purpose better.

        • says

          >>Your concept of Six Sigma needs improvement. <<

          My explanation was intended to show that "Six Sigma" does not apply here, which it most certainly does not. It happens that there are a lot of details in how six sigma management works that I did not discuss, but that is also irrelevant to this. You can say that only two in a million people die from the festival, but you cannot then automatically say that that is an acceptable death rate.

          Re. the rest of your post:

          Pointing out the problems of others does not absolve you from responsibility for your own errors.

          It happens that there are many things that should be improved in society. Building codes in many countries and compliance to them by the owners should both be better. Medical treatments should not be used when the side effects are more harmful than the primary effect is beneficial (that’s called ‘evidence-based medicine’). Airplanes and trains and cars could be made safer than they are.

          You seem to think that society should only try to fix one problem at a time. Certainly the largest problems merit the most attention, but that isn’t a reason to neglect the smaller ones entirely. In this case, as I said, people are dying because of the festival. The reasons that they are dying are primarily horrific traffic patterns and the river being dirty, which are problems on their own. Fix those problems, and the festival would be less objectionable. But while the river is dirty, don’t claim that bathing in it when you have an alternative is somehow meritorious.

        • says


          >>People do die or get infected or get some diseases everyday, you blame it to industrialization and dominance of human over other animals.<<

          No, I do not. That would be wrong.

          Many deaths and a lot of disease around the world, and especially in India, is preventable. The Ganges is dirty, but that’s not something that can be blamed on ‘industrialization’ as some blanket evil. The river is dirty in part from industrial waste products but also because there are many millions of people dumping waste into it without properly treating the waste first. Untreated sewage and un-cremated human remains get thrown into the river. Those are the sources of infectious disease, which is currently the bulk of the problem – although the industrial waste is also a concern.

          There are well-established ways to treat sewage and to properly dispose of human and animal remains. This is why water quality in many rivers is now far better than it was in the past. There are also well-established ways to provide clean water to a population. These all take time, resources, and effort; and quite a bit of all three for a river with as many people using it as the Ganges.

          Other causes of illness and death are not as easily prevented, but that is not a reason to point out those problems that can be solved.

  10. Hindu says

    Human gathering is fun and is also a habit of social animal to gather at one place on some occasion. If such gathering does not harm others or if the the gathered people do not wish death to others or condemn others faith, it should not be a problem to anybody. Thousands of people watch games by sitting in the same stadium, thousands of people gather to hear their leaders speaking, hundreds of people gather in the same hall for watching movies or play. Can we stop them? Is it condemnable? Problem is – we try to prove ourselves SECULAR by bashing left and right without realizing that left is not right.

    All religions were/are sheltered, protected and flourished in India because the Indians were/are HINDUS. We should try our best to preserve this culture which considers all human beings are equal irrespective of their religion/faith/belief.

    • still thinking says

      “All religions were/are sheltered, protected and flourished in India because the Indians were/are HINDUS.”

      Is that an opinion or a fact. Does being a Hindu automatically make you secular..

      “We should try our best to preserve this culture which considers all human beings are equal irrespective of their religion/faith/belief.”

      Why ? Why should culture be preserved? Isn’t culture an ever changing idea…and I have serious doubt that other than in your idealistic mind that present day indian culture treats every one as equal -irrespective of religion ,faith or belief…and it is amazing how you have left gender out of it completely! wow…you have lead an amazing blinded life filled with idealistic dreams with no touch to reality!

      • Agni_B says

        History is the witness that can testifies -Hindus are secular,tolerant. A culture which has proved over the ages its infinite tolerance towards other creeds and religions, giving refuge to all persecuted minorities in the world, .

        You may see some nationalistic tendency now, due to present climate of minority appeasement and terrorism and this should be expected.

        The reason why India is /was a soft target for Invaders, missionaries and religious minority throughout the ages and paid an inconceivable heavy prize.

        You don’t need this blog to seek facts, you need history lesson.

        Culture – static or changing- Both can be preserved for the benefit of the society and India has done that

        .You are correct- India and the legal system do not treat all religions with equal respect, nor does it treat all religions equally under the law. Majority hindus are 2nd/3rd class citizen of their own land.
        Just for your information Human=both gender.

        • says

          I have followed your comments with interest but would like a response to your recent post claiming that Hindu culture “has proved over the ages its infinite tolerance” etc. ie. how to do you justify the extreme forms of caste discrimination which exist within Hinduism?

          Thank You.

          • Agni_B says

            It is obvious that upper caste Hindus are very intolerant towards their own kind. No one trying to justify. Every Hindu basher use this stick to bash India.
            My remarks are about how Hinduisms treated other faith that suffered religious persecution in their own birth place and gave them refuge.

            Jews were given sanctuary and freedom to practice their religion. without anyone trying to convert them
            Parsis from Persia fled to India form forceful Muslim conversion, no one tried to
            convert them. Dalai Lama fled from Chinese oppression and were given sanctuary

            The caste system was never intended as a rigid restriction by birth. Caste system was described by Manu as a means to highlight division of labour — its misapplication became division of rank in society.
            Every society has a hierarchical structure whether it is openly acknowledged or not. All social animals have a hierarchical structure. That is the nature of things. Caste system = modern day class system without the rigidity.

            Indian constitution does not recognize caste system

            India being a Hindu majority country:
            A Christian woman not born in India is the most powerful person in the country.
            A Sikh is the prime minister of India
            A Muslim is foreign minister of India .

            That is the essence of Hindu tolerance

          • says

            India is infinitely tolerant? That’s not what Muslims in India say.

            It is obvious that upper caste Hindus are very intolerant towards their own kind.

            Only upper-class people are intolerant? There’s two problems with that. First, upper-class people are the ones with power, so if they’re intolerant, their intolerance permeates their policies, so the country they rule can’t pretend it’s “infinitely tolerant.”

            And second, I find that claim very hard to believe, since bigotry and intolerance can be found in ALL levels of ALL societies. (Which the upper class use to keep the rest of us divided against each other.)

            A Muslim is foreign minister of India.

            And a black man is President of the United States. That doesn’t mean there’s no racism in the US.

        • still thinking says

          (“History is the witness that can testifies -Hindus are secular,tolerant. A culture which has proved over the ages its infinite tolerance towards other creeds and religions, giving refuge to all persecuted minorities in the world, .”)

          Ah shouldn’t that be the political power of that time in history was tolerant to all kinds of philosophies within the framework of hinduism at a certain time in history… and was also helpless in the face of a more politically hostile climate? You see it as a pat in the sholder for hinduism as it held sway among the majority.(If I leart my history..Monarchy is not the same a Demoracy right? right?) But if you can see people are more than political pawns you will find xenophoebic tendencies in any kind of people. It is what causes classism,castism, sexism, and religionism (it is not a word but ..)

          You don’t need this blog to seek facts, you need history lesson…to you too …

          (Culture – static or changing- Both can be preserved for the benefit of the society and India has done that)

          That is the most irksome thing I keep hearing at all times…It is like taking a bottle of water from an ocean and finding satisfaction in preserving it. At most one can shape our culture and be a part of it and grow with it. It will for ever change and you can no more preserve it than hold a wave in your hand. It is this vast accumulation of the past to which todays present will be added to become a part of tomorrow’s culture. You cant take away from it …loose it…or find it, or preserve it…And as this world grows smaller we get added to the world culture…and we are a part of a kaleidoscope. Some might find it a bit hurtful to suddenly not be the only visible color any more…but to the future it their most interesting cultural kaleidoscope! Society does not benefit from culture itself…but from its evolving form. What were poisonous cultural practices of yesterday can be reformed to form new cultural practices. What India does is called maintaing status co. An all is well ..nothing needs to be changed attitude.

          .You are correct- India and the legal system do not treat all religions with equal respect, nor does it treat all religions equally under the law. Majority Hindus(shouldn’t that be majority people) are 2nd/3rd class citizen of their own land.

          • Agni_B says

            Like you I am still thinking – I can’t recognize the contention you trying to make, so that I can reply!!

  11. still thinking says

    What I am bothered about is the broad and sweeping statments that at best promote a make good feel to the writer and those that are at the same social standing as the writer but are very dismissive to those not within the same bracket.
    For a start…this Indian culture that needs to be preserved helps those who enjoy the privilages of the culture, but is very dismissive of those that are prosecuted because of it. If you are to talk of the great secular attitude of the majority Hindus..you should not be naming anomilities like a christian born woman, or a Muslim president.. but giving examples of percentages. For example what percent of christian born women are in offices of power..compared to the total percent of christian born women. What percent of Muslims hold high government positions comparted to the total muslim population. Your example is like a lot I hear. You know Hindus worship godesses…so that cannot possibly be sexist! It is bad as an analogy and shows the blindness of the said individual to the sturggles of women in India.

    • Agni_B says

      Every one expressing their own views, not promoting or dismissive to any one,
      Agreement and disagreement depends on one’s own perception. All debate has conflicting observation & analysis and this is healthy & desirable

      Illustration is useful to highlight my claim without beating around the bush and to show the secular nature of Hinduism. You may not impressed but the world is astounded with this accomplishment from a largest democracy in the world

      If we follow the percentage formula, majority 80% of the Hindus should have all the jobs and benefit, none to minority. It seems you advocating positive discrimination, which is regressive. No minority in India get persecuted because of his/her the religious alliance. On the contrary, majority Hindus are disadvantaged now, as a result of minority appeasement.

      Indian system of checks and balances provides opportunity to all citizens including positive discrimination. Some minority can’t advance because of their religious mind set and Indian system or Hinduism is not at fault.

      • still thinking says

        There is no debating willful ignorance! With all this hot air..no wonder your view from high up there is very pleasant! I am quite glad I won’t be there when you run out of it!

  12. says

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