Millions take to water at Hindu festival

13th Feb 2013

Up to 30 million pilgrims have bathed in sacred waters as part of a Hindu festival in India.

Believed to be the world's biggest human gathering, Sunday's main bathing day of the Kumbh Mela saw crowds of people take to the water at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.

The event is held every 12 years and is expected to attract 100 million bathers in total across its 55 days.

This year's festival is also a Maha Kumbh Mela - with this only coming round once every 144 years it makes this year's event even more special for holidaymakers on group tours who have caught sight of the proceedings.

Those who take part in the festival believe the waters at Sangam - where the rivers meet - have the power to cleanse sins and bring salvation.

One young devotee, Ashutosh Pandey, a pharmacy student, said the holy dip was a form of prayer for him.

"When I bathe I am praying to God for the good of my country and the world," he said.

Kumbh Mela chief Devesh Chaturvedi said: "By afternoon over 20 million people had taken the holy dip and by evening the numbers crossed 30 million."

The crowd, made up of mostly men belonging to Hindu monastic orders, began to arrive early on Sunday morning. Some came on extravagant chariots, carrying pennants, bow and arrows and banners.

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