What the 'Largest Gathering in History' Leaves Behind

Lots of garbage, unsurprisingly
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2013 12:22 PM CDT
Shoes and other belonging discarded by Hindu devotees are seen strewn across the ground at 'Sangam', the confluence of Hindu holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.   (AP Photo /Rajesh Kumar Singh)

(Newser) – One would have to imagine that the aftermath of what has been described as the "largest human gathering in history" wouldn't be pretty. The Wall Street Journal today confirms that is indeed the case. It presents photos taken three weeks after the end of the 55-day Kumbh Mela, which the paper notes was supposed to be eco-friendly this time around (pilgrims were urged to take their trash with them or, at the very least, put it in a can). But with more than 80 million Hindus descending on Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, for the religious festival, it's little surprise that 56 tons of trash was produced daily, and not all of it was taken care of so neatly; as the Journal reports, plastic bags and bottles, and even human waste, linger.

And it's not just what you'd typically consider garbage: As Time reported, the pilgrims who entered the Ganges stripped off "sweaters, pants, saris, skirts, T-shirts, scarves, sandals, and whatever other garments stood in their way between this mortal coil and a little salvation." Those soggy clothes are abandoned as well. Click to see photos. (Read more Kumbh Mela stories.)

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