INTRODUCTION: In India, hundreds of thousands of Hindi pilgrims have been taking part in the month-long religious festival Kumbh Mela.
INTRODUCTION: In India, hundreds of thousands of Hindi pilgrims have been taking part in the month-long religious festival Kumbh Mela. They've been suffering freezing weather temperatures in one of the festival's ceremonies.
SYNOPSIS: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims joined hundreds of naked holy men as they marched to the confluence of India's three holy rivers - the Ganges, the Jamuna and the mythical Saraswati - to take a dawn bath in the icy waters. The pilgrims, who flanked the procession route of the holy men, came from all over India to bathe in the confluence in the belief that its waters are holy and will wash away their sins. The festival of Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. This year, the holy men attached greater significance to it because of a double confluence of the rivers.
Some of the pilgrims left their homes months ago and travelled by foot, bullock carts and train to reach the confluence in time for the festival.
The devout Hindu believes that a bath in the waters of the holy rivers earns him spiritual merit. According to Hindi astrologers extra special merit is acquired during the Kumbh Mela when Jupiter enters the constellation Aries - as it did this year. The astrologers also say that extra blessings will go to all those who take a dip in the confluence this month, when a particularly auspicious configuration of planets and stars takes place for the first time in 144 years. They say the important bathing days are the 14th, 19th and 24th of January, and the 4th of February.