The Greatest Gathering in the World: The Kumbh Mela

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12143

Imagine being in a crowd of one-hundred thousand people. That’s the size of a large football stadium. Now, imagine being in a crowd of seventy million people. Let's go to the Kumbh Mela and get wet!


World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What do you think is the size of the largest peaceful gathering of people on Earth?

People travel for many different reasons.

Some people travel for business. Many families will hit the road in the summer time to go to the beach and relax or climb mountains just for the sheer joy of it. Other people might travel over long distances, even around the world, to suffer, meditate, and pray along with thousands or even millions of other travelers!

Pilgrimage, or traveling for a religious purpose, has deep roots in human history. There are many countless pilgrimages in the many religious traditions of the world, and some would say that there are even non-religious kinds of pilgrimage that are still different from tourism and other kinds of travel.

What exactly is a pilgrimage and what makes it different from other forms of travel? As you read Pilgrims and Pilgrimage, courtesy of The University of York, write down at least five traits that you think distinguish pilgrimage from other forms of travel.

Share your findings with your parent or teacher, then discuss the following questions together:

  • What value do you think pilgrimages hold for those who do them?
  • What are some pilgrimages of which you are already aware?
  • What do you think are some of the special challenges for people who go on pilgrimages?

There are many pilgrimages that can draw thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of people at a time. The Hajj in Saudi Arabia regularly draws three million people, and the Arbaeen pilgrimage in Iraq can gather upwards of 15 million at a time.

In the Got It? section, examine an extraordinary pilgrimage that brings in many, many more than that!

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