By Balogun Kamilu Lekan
Different religions have specific sacred periods, and there is always a reason to visit these places of worship, whether interested in their history, art, or simply participating in a pre-arranged tour.
Travelling for pilgrimage has been a prevalent reason for travel since ancient times and continues to be so. Various religions worldwide have designated specific locations as being particularly holy, and their followers often pilgrimage to these places to demonstrate their devotion or experience the sacredness of the location.
Below is a list of the top 10 religious gatherings in the world
1. Maha Kumbh Mela – 120 million
The Maha Kumbh Mela is a massive Hindu pilgrimage festival in India every 12 years.
Millions of devotees gather at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati rivers to take a ritual bath in the holy waters, believing it will cleanse them of their sins and bring salvation.
The religious festival is attended by an estimated 120 million and is celebrated once every twelve years.
2. Arba’een Pilgrimage – 20 million
Arba’een Pilgrimage is a major Shia Muslim religious gathering annually in Karbala in Iraq. The event marks the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. It is attended by millions of Shia Muslims from around the world.
About 20 million Shia Muslims devotees attend this revered ceremony annually.
3. River Ganges – 20 million
The Ganges River requires no introduction; every area it touches becomes a pilgrimage or a spiritual site. It is considered pious at all levels, whether where it originates in Uttarakhand or where it flows in its whole, Varanasi.
Over 20 million Hindu pilgrims visit the River Ganges each year, and it is thought that a sacred bath in the Ganges water is required to wash away all sins.
According to Hindu tradition, a person’s ashes must be immersed in the Ganges after death. It is the world’s most visited pilgrimage site. The Ganges is revered as a deity and worshipped in all stages.
4. Pope Francis’ Catholic Mass in 2015 – 7 million
Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to the Philippines drew 7 million visitors. The pope presided over the largest gathering in papal history.
The Mass occurred in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and was attended by cardinals, bishops, and other Catholic clergy members.
This Mass marked the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate and set the tone for his papacy, characterized by a focus on compassion, social justice, and reaching out to the needy.
5. Black Nazarene in 2011 – 6 million
Black Nazarene, a Filipino Catholic custom, symbolizes Jesus Christ on his way to his crucifixion. It was carved in Mexico in the 16th century and transferred to the Philippines in 1606. Filipino Catholics believe the icon is supernatural and has the power to heal ailments. An estimated 2.6 million believers attend the procession, expecting to gain blessings by touching the idol.
The procession drew over 6 million worshippers in 2011, making it one of the greatest religious gatherings in human history.
6. Makara Jyothi in 2007 – 5 million
Makara Jyothi is an annual Hindu religious event in the Indian state of Kerala, usually on the 14th of January.
Devotees worship a star on this day, believing that the celestial lighting is a blessing from the Hindu god Lord Ayyappan.
The 2007 edition of the outing recorded about 5 million pilgrims from all over India
7. Bishwa Itjema – 5 million
This gathering is held annually in Bangladesh, with attendees from over 150 countries.
It is the second-largest gathering of Muslims in the world.
This gathering is of unique interest because it steers away from politics and prioritizes community building. The organizers designed the event to challenge negative stereotypes and to promote cooperation and harmonious relations within the community.
8. Western Wall, Jerusalem – 5 million
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and is a significant site of Jewish worship. It is considered the last remaining structure of the Second Temple, which the Romans destroyed in 70 CE.
For centuries, the Western Wall has served as a place of prayer and reflection for Jews from all over the world, and it remains one of the most visited tourist sites in Jerusalem.
It records about 5 million visitors annually.
9. Hajj – 3 million
Hajj is an Islamic practice that every Muslim must undergo at least once in a lifetime when they have the capacity.
The gathering holds in Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 3 million attendees annually.
The pilgrimage occurs in the last month of the Islamic calendar.
10. Attukal Temple – 3 million
This is a gathering for only women. The event in Kerala, India, serves as a positive representation of female solidarity.
It is regarded as the largest women gathering in the world, with about 3 million women visiting Kerela annually.
Millions of women assemble around the temple on the festival’s last day to create a sweet rice meal using fire pots, a ritualistic offering to the Goddess Attukal.
The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.
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