Entry Title: "Nectar of Immortality"
Name: Rudolf Thalhammer , Austria
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|Other_ED|Culture|Lifestyle|Other_P|Other_S|Travel/Tourism|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional


Entry Description: Banares is a naga sadhu a follower of Lord Shiva, an ascetic wandering monk who dedicated his life to the the pursuit of liberation. Together with hundred thousands of his brothers and sisters in faith he set out from the high mountains of the Himalayas to take part in this holiest of Hindu pilgrimages of faith to bath in the nectar of immortality on the most auspicious day.

Story: For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the grail (kumbh) with the nectar of immortality. It is believed that during this beetle four drops of the nectar (amrita) were spilled at four places in India: Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Every twelfth year the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world, is held at one of these places, but only every 144 years according to a special combination of stellar positions of Sun, Moon, and Jupiter the Maha Kumbh Mela - the biggest rite of all is held in Prayag.  Banares is a naga sadhu a follower of Lord Shiva, an ascetic wandering monk who dedicated his life to the the pursuit of liberation. Together with hundred thousands of his brothers and sisters in faith he set out from the high mountains of the Himalayas to take part in this holiest of Hindu pilgrimages of faith to bath in the nectar of immortality on the most auspicious day. At the banks of river Ganges and Yamuna he is covering his body with ashes, his holy cloths.   In 2013, more than 40 million gathered on the main bathing day of the Maha Kumbh Mela and over 100 million during the whole festivities. 

About the Artist:

Dr. Rudolf Thalhammer studied medicine at the Vienna University. One of his passions was always photography. "Le moment décisif - “the right moment” is not only important for my profession as a doctor but also for photography in order to capture THE magical moment in a fraction of a second," says the award-winning aficionado. If you want to see more of his photographic work check out his website www.rudolfthalhammer.com