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A photography exhibition by Delhi-based Fine Art photographer Parul Sharma of the Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 captivated the audience of Florence with the opening of her show, 'Mystic India', at the prestigious public art space, the Museo Marino Marini.
The Ardh Kumbh Mela of 2019, as per the figures of the Uttar Pradesh government, was the largest gathering in human history, with an estimated 120 million devotees attending the spiritual gathering.
Among those making the pilgrimage, were the fearsome and famed Naga Sadhus at the Shahi Snan also known as ï¿½Rajyogi Snan'.
The reclusive Naga Sadhus, who are known for their renunciation of all worldly possessions and their life in the wild, are a dying breed, with experts estimating their numbers only in the couple thousand.
Sharma has captured their portraits in triumphant spirit as they charge down to the holy Sangam armed with tridents, swords and the intoxication that is the Kumbh Mela.
This year's event was also historic in its inclusion of the transgender community. Their increasing legitimacy in Indian society is illustrated by the fact that this was the first occasion in the history of the Kumbh that they were given their own Akhada.
Sharma's work espouses the third gender of the Indian society by capturing them in their own unique essence.
Speaking at the crowded opening ceremony of 'Mystic India', Patrizia Asproni, Director, Marino Marini Museum said: "We are so happy to host this beautiful exhibition by Parul Sharma about the Kumbh Mela. I think this exhibition is part of her spiritual journey and now that this show is here in Florence, she gets to share it just for us."
The exhibition is the solo photographic focal point of the annual River to River India Festival hosted every December for the past 19 years in Florence.
Several leading Italian publications, including Italy's largest newspaper, La Republica and leading art publications such as Finestre sull' Arte and Artribune have lauded the work.
"I am happy and honored to have Parul Sharma's photos exhibited during the festival at Museo Marino Marini. Her work is extremely powerful and interesting and in this case it depicts a very specific moment of Indian traditions with amazing photos and portraits," said Selvaggia Velo, Founder and Director of River to River Florence Indian Film Festival.