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Old 04-08-2005, 11:29 PM
aerodave aerodave is offline
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Largest funeral *ever*

I just heard the guy on the news refer to the Pope's funeral as the largest in modern times. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not the biggest ever, but it's implicit in making a statement like that.

So when would there ever have been a larger funeral? I can't think of anyone in history that would have drawn literally millions of people.

The main obstacle I see is that before "modern times" (whatever that's supposed to mean in this sense) the realities of travel, the slowness of communications, and the lower population would have made it hard to get a funeral this large.

And, as a further question, what is the largest known gathering of people in one place, a la Woodstock (or Waynestock)?
Old 04-09-2005, 08:45 AM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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I remember reading that when Nero's wife Poppaea Sabina died in 65 AD, he had an entire year's production of incense, a pretty costly product because of its popularity in ceremonies, burnt for the funeral. The first cite I found after some googling is this. But that of course doesn't refer to the number of participants.

Generally speaking, I think it's hard to imagine a larger funeral than this in ancient times, simply because of population numbers then. A quick WAG from me would be the funeral of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi, famous for his mausoleum with the terracotta army.
Old 04-09-2005, 08:51 AM
critter42 critter42 is offline
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I would have thought, in modern times at least, that maybe Gandhi"s funeral was at least as well attended and IIRC, Mother Theresa's funeral had around a million or so people attending.
Old 04-09-2005, 09:40 AM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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According to some cites 4 Million people were in and around Red Square for Stalin's funeral. Whether you believ that number is grossly exaggerated or not, it probably really was in the JPII ballpark in terms actual attendance ... but I know it wasn't "bigger" in terms of attending dignitaries or World Wide electronic audience - no cite I am just positive that it wasn‘t.
Old 04-09-2005, 03:05 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Pulling out my trusty 1986 Guinness Book Of World Records and turning to "Largest Funeral" (p423):

"The funeral of C. N. Annadurai (d Feb 3, 1969) Madras (India) Chief Minister was, according to some press reports, attended by 15 million."

Attendance counts at all kinds of public events are notoriously overinflated (one of William Poundstone's "Big Secrets" books has some good examples) but if we can assume that this one wasn't any more or less fudged than any other then it still beats JP2's funeral by a lot in terms of sheer numbers.

I'm always a little suspicious when I hear about public gatherings of millions of people - IIRC it takes about 2 square feet per person (and that's assuming you really pack 'em in tight), so one million people would be a cluster one hundred feet wide and one mile long. That's huge. Aside from the crowding you have to think about how these people get onsite, where they stay, etc.

Regarding the largest crowd ever, p422 of the same GBoWR gives the following:

"The greatest recorded number of human beings assembled with a common purpose was an estimated 12,700,000 at the Hindu feast of Kumbh-Mela, which was held at the confluence of the Yamuna (formerly called the Jumna), the Ganges and the invisible 'Sarasvati' at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Jan 19, 1977."

Since this is smaller than the estimate for the largest funeral one of them must be wrong but no matter how you look at it you can get some pretty big crowds in India.

Sorry I don't have a more recent copy of the GBoWR but in recent years they've tended towards entries like "Funniest Sitcom Ever!"
Old 04-09-2005, 04:43 PM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Or it could be that the Annadurai funeral was an event over several days and, thus, doesn't count as a single gathering.
Old 04-09-2005, 04:46 PM
muttrox muttrox is offline
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FWIW, PBS reported last night in a PJP2 documentary that he assembled the largest gathering of humanity ever in the Phillipines, 7 or 8 million. Sorry no real cite, and it doesn't beat the numbers cited here. Still, it's pretty interesting how high up the charts he is/was for both categories.
Old 04-09-2005, 11:16 PM
Casey1505 Casey1505 is online now
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As for largest gathering in a single place at a single time, would a particular moment in time (something during Ramadan maybe) in Mecca possibly be in the running? This picture of a haj looks quite well attended.


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