Huge Hindu festival to get under way


Indian authorities are bracing for one of the largest religious gatherings in the world with more than 10 million people expected to enter River Ganges to cleanse their sins in a festival that comes once every 12 years.

Naked ash-smeared holy men are taking positions for a big procession marking the start of the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival, some of them on horses and in chariots, toward the confluence of the rivers for a dip at an auspicious time early tomorrow amid chanting of hymns.

They will be followed by masses of men, women and children gathered by the riverbank where the Ganges joins the Yamuna River, and, according to Hindu belief, the mythical Saraswati River.

More than 100 million pilgrims from India and abroad will attend the 55-day festival, said Devesh Chaturvedi, a Uttar Pradesh state government official.


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