Largest Gatherings in Human History

Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, India, 2013


Believed to be the largest religious gathering on earth, Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.It is thought that 30 million Hindu pilgrims gathered to bathe during the festival in 2013.

Arbaeen festival, Iraq, 2014

Up to 17 million people are thought to have made the pilgrimage to the 2014 ceremony of Arbaeen, which commemorates the death of a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, Imam Hussain. The festival is held in the city of Karbala.


Funeral of CN Annadurai, India, 1969


Widely thought to be the largest funeral attendance in history, 15 million people took to the streets of Chennai in memory of the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. was widely respected as a writer and speaker and also extremely popular after he made Tamil the official language of the state, rejecting Hindi.


    Funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran, 1989

Around 10 million Iranians came to Tehran to mourn the political leader. Several were crushed to death as the crowds became uncontrollable.

Papal gathering in the Philippines, 2015

The head of Manila’s planning agency said six million turned out to see the Pope in Manila, surpassing the previous world record for a papal gathering of five million.

World Youth Day, 1995


More than five million people attended Pope John Paul II’s Sunday mass on January 15, 1995 – World Youth Day. Unable to navigate the crowds on the ground, the Pope had to be flown to the event by helicopter.
Funeral of Gamal Abdel Nasser, 1970

It is thought five million people attended the funeral of the Egyptian president in Cairo.

Rod Stewart concert, Brazil, 1994


The British rock singer attracted a crowd of three and a half million as he played in Rio de Janeiro.

Hajj pilgrimage, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 2012


An estimated three million people arrived for the annual pilgrimage in 2012. Many slept on the marble floor paving the outside of the Grand Mosque, the focal point of the Islamic faith.

Anti-war march, Rome, 2003


It is thought that three million people marched through Rome in opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq. It is thought to be on of the biggest anti-war marches in history.

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