No, this is not a photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2019 Kumbh Mela festival

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on January 29, 2019 at 10:30
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP India
Photographs purportedly showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2019 Kumbh Mela festival in the northern city of Allahabad have been shared thousands of times on Facebook. But the pictures were actually taken in 2004 during a different Hindu festival in the city of Ujjain -- around 500 miles away from Allahabad.

The pictures in this Facebook post, which has been shared more than 4,000 times since it was uploaded on January 17, show Indian prime minister Narendra Modi wearing orange and immersed in water.

In some of the pictures Modi is holding his hands together in a prayer gesture and a red holy mark can be seen on his forehead.

Snapshot of the misleading post claims it to be from 2019 Kumbh Mela festival

The post's caption says: "Indian prime minister Narendra Modi taking a holy dip during the Kumbh Mela."

This year’s Kumbh Mela, a seven-week festival began on January 15, 2019 in Allahabad, an ancient city in northern Uttar Pradesh state. Here is an AFP report about the ongoing festival, during which Hindu pilgrims bathe in India’s holy rivers.

Similar posts using the same images and claims about Modi have been posted on Facebook, for example here with more than 2,000 shares, and on Twitter, for example here

A reverse image search found the pictures were actually from the 2004 Ujjain Simhastha, a religious festival held every 12 years in Ujjain, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The images used in the misleading Facebook post were originally published on the Ujjain Live Facebook page and can be seen here, here, here and here

Here is a screenshot of the original photos on the Ujjain Live Facebook page alongside the misleading post.

Snapshot of the original post
Snapshot of the misleading post

Nitin Sharma, one of the founders of told AFP in a telephone interview that the photos were taken in 2004.

“These photos were clicked by our photographers which dates back to 2004 Ujjain Simhastha, when Modi took a holy dip in river Shipra,” he said, adding the images were only posted on the Ujjain Live Facebook page in 2016.

During the 2016 Ujjain Simhastha, Hindi-language news website Patrika also published the images of Narendra Modi’s visit to Ujjain in 2004.

Multiple other local news websites, for example here, also shared the photographs of Narendra Modi’s 2004 visit to Ujjain in 2016.

In 2016, Modi again visited the Ujjain Simhastha but he did not bathe in the river, according to to Indian media reports at the time, for example here.

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