Feb 2, 2013

Let’s do the numbers!

This is my last pre-Kumbh Mela post. I’m leaving Puri tomorrow for Kolkata. I’m leaving Kolkata for Kumbh Mela on February 6. Below I've done the numbers for the largest peaceful gatherings in human history. How will American crowds rank against Indian gatherings?

[Immediately above is one of the scores of photos I've taken in the fishing village for kids that want to have their picture taken. The boy who pleaded to have his picture taken is the one holding up (and I don’t know why) the number “2.” My first thought when reviewing it was, “too bad there’s 4 kids in the center instead of two. Then I realized that’s not 4, it’s 2 pairs! I saw the 3 other pairs in the picture and I thought ‘This is Two-riffic. It wasn’t until there were 2 in that garden that things started to get interesting. Two is the essential number for mankind…’

[However, as I began this “Numbers” post I looked at my 2-some pic again and found that my enthusiasm for it had diminished considerably. So, I decided to begin here with a pair of less dubious merit that was also taken in the fishing village.]

So, without further preface, let’s do the numbers for peaceful human gatherings

  • Largest gathering in history, 70 million, Kumbh Mela in 2001
  • Second largest gathering 18.5 million visited the shrine of Iman Hussein  during Arba’een in 2013
  • Largest Christian gathering, over 5 million to see Pope John Paul II in the Philippines in 1995
  • Largest political gathering is a tie, 5 million in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate Mubarak’s removal. 5 million in Tehran to welcome Ayatollah Khomeini on his return to Tehran
  • Largest concert - 4.2 million to hear Rod Stewart in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1996
  • Largest number of pilgrims at Mecca, 3.5 million in 2010
  • Largest anti-war rally is a tie. Rome and London, 3 million in each city protesting the U.S. Led invasion of Iraq on Feb. 15th 2003
  • Largest gathering in the USA, 3 million attend parade celebrating Boston Red Sox winning World Series in 2004.
  • Largest party, over 1 million at Love Parade, Essen, Germany in 2007
  • Most celebrated large peaceful gathering in the USA, Woodstock music festival, 450,000 near Bethel, New York in 1969.

[Source: all numbers based on estimates published on Wikipedia.)

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