National Geographic : 1921 Nov
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by William W. Chapin INSULT HARNESSED TO THE INJURED The camel is accustomed to burdens. Without the twin loads which flank his sides the desert carrier seems gaunt and unimpressive. But to harness him between thills like a horse or a Belgian dog is the last indignity that breaks the camel's pride. of bare feet and awkward slippers with huge hanging tongues. Stooping street sprinklers with swollen water- skins weave back and forth, rescuing a wide roadway from the dusty strand which in summer is hidden beneath the murky waters of the sacred rivers. Out beyond the line of religious boats, each with its tinsel shrine, the pilgrims seek the place where the cleansing flood of the Jumna enters the sacred Ganges, and coffee-colored rivers make a coffee colored people whiter than snow - in their own estimation. Like other religious fairs, the Megh Mela at Allahabad is a mecca for money makers, and the principal thoroughfare is lined with mat-shed shops for the sale of sacrificial brassware, tiny brass idols, holy berries made into dark necklaces, and shining brass water bottles, zoned with mellow-tinted copper, in which holy water can be taken to remote parts of India by credulous people. Here and there one finds men with small furnaces full of heated pitch, sealing the water vessels so that not a germ or an atom of holiness can escape. I had entered the grounds with my camera without knowing that photogra phy was forbidden, and near the river I came upon an old man upon whose time furrowed face many cabalistic signs were painted. He was reluctant about having his pic ture taken. Then a policeman came up and said that photography was forbidden. Evidently the modesty of my time-hon ored friend had been false or assumed, for at this sign that he could not have his picture taken he began to rail at the po liceman in terms which defied, but did not require, translation. Being endowed with an American re spect for agents of law and order, I started to put up my camera; but by this time a crowd had gathered and it was evident that the cabalistic signs on the pilgrim were far more potent than any symbol of police authority, and not only were the three policemen who had joined the first officer overruled by the pilgrims, 462 r,.