Ever wonder what the 10 largest gatherings of human beings on this planet have been?
Three are Hindu religious gatherings
one is a Catholic religious gathering
one is a Communist gathering
one is a Muslim gathering
and four are funerals (two of which tied in numbers).
Who knows where and when those gigantic gatherings of people occurred?
Update: Since the first 1,000 visitors weren't brave enough to guess, I'll provide the answers:
1. Ardh Kumbh Mela, January, 2007: India
More than 70 million Hindu pilgrims from
around the world gathered at Allahabad in India for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious festival
and also the world’s largest gathering.
2. Simhastha Kumbh Mela, April 5, 2004: India
30 million Hindu pilgrims from all over the world traveled to Hindu holy city of Ujjain in India.
3. The funeral of C. N. Annadurai in 1969: India
Annadurai was a former Chief Minister of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. I 5 million attended his funeral.
4. Mass Gathering of Red Guards, Beijing, 1966, China:
Eight Mass rallies between August and November of 1966, the height of the Cultural Revolution. 11 million Red Guards gathered in all.
5. Karbala, Iraq, 2009:
9 million Shia Muslim pilgrims visited the shrine of Imam Hussein. Only about 80,000 are non-Iraqis.
6. Sabarimala Pilgrimage, January 14, 2007: India
5 million Hindu pilgrims paid homage at Sabarimala Shrine in Kerala, India.
7. World Youth Day 1995: Manila, Philippines
4 million attend the Closing Mass of World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II.
8. Ayatollah Khomeini Funeral: June 3, 1989: Iran
Two to nine million Iranians gathered for the Ayatollah's funeral.
9. Funeral of Pope John Paul II, April 7, 2005: Rome
Two to four million attended.
10: Umm Kulthum and Gamel Abdul Nasser Funerals, Egypt
February 5, 1975 (Umm Kulthum) and October 1, 1970 (President Nassar of Egypt). Both were in Egypt and drew about 4 million people. Here's a little taste of the fabulous Umm Kulthum in action with convenient English commentary.
Fascinating, how many of the gigantic gatherings are unknown to most of us in the west. I knew about Um Kulthum, Nasser, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Shia shrine of Karbala because of my long interest in the middle east. (For a fascinating look at women's lives in 1950's village Iraq, including a visit to Shrine of Hussein in Karbala, read Elizabeth Warnock Fernea's Guests of the Sheik.) And of course, JPII.
But I have never heard of gatherings 1 - 4 and 6. Even in the age of the internet, they might as well have occurred on the moon. Notice the tremendous drawing power of religion. So much for the new atheists.