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Effect of Social Groups on Crowd Movement in Mass Religious Gatherings: A Case Study of Kumbh Mela


In mass religious gatherings like Kumbh Mela, where participation of groups is much higher than individuals, studying the impact of groups on the macroscopic parameters is imperative. Although many researchers have studied group behaviour and its dynamics, the effect of the presence of groups in different group sizes on crowd movement is seldom studied. This paper tries to strengthen the existing literature by studying the impact of the presence of groups and group sizes on crowd movement in two major attractions of Kumbh Mela-2016. The average speed was found to decrease as the group size increased. Further, while comparing the groups’ speeds with isolated pedestrian speeds, it was inferred that the presence of groups slows overall crowd movement. This is done assuming a location as an isolated pedestrian section, based on a few criteria. This study will help bring out interesting insights on the effect of groups in the crowd and uncover their impact on the overall speed of the crowd. This study can also help the event planners and managers to take proper crowd management measures (such as appropriate barricading, streamlining the flow, etc.) whenever there is a reduction in speeds at the ghat or temple regions.

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The work reported in this paper is part of the project titled The Kumbh Mela Experiment: Measuring and Understanding the Dynamics of Mankind’s largest crowd, funded by the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India (MITO-0105), Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO (Project no. 629.002.202), and Robert Bosch Center for Cyber Physical Systems, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (Grant No. RBCO001). The authors also express their gratitude towards Kumbh Mela administration and government of Madhya Pradesh, India for providing constant support and official permissions to carry out research work and establish Indo-Dutch collaborative research camp at Kumbh Mela 2016. The authors acknowledge the opportunity provided by the 6th Conference of the Transportation Research Group of India (CTRG-2021) to present the work that formed the basis of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ashish Verma.

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Subramanian, G.H., Verma, A. Effect of Social Groups on Crowd Movement in Mass Religious Gatherings: A Case Study of Kumbh Mela. Transp. in Dev. Econ. 8, 8 (2022).

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  • Group behaviour
  • Kumbh Mela
  • Macroscopic
  • India