Millions Of Indians Take Holy Dip As Kumbh Mela Begins

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Millions Of Indians Take Holy Dip As Kumbh Mela Begins

Millions of people have taken to the waters at the confluence of India's sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers as part of the Kumbh Mela festival - humanity's largest gathering. By end of day, about 1.4 crore people had taken the ritual bath in the holy waters of the Sangam here, administration officials estimated.

Hindus believe bathing at the rivers will cleanse their sins and bring salvation. The holy men were among the first procession to arrive early Tuesday. Sadhus - or ascetics - smeared ash on their bodies as they came out of the water and chanted 'Har Har Gange', or 'Mother Ganges', and danced while posing for photographers.

 The Naga sadhus are the biggest draw of the festival - held in the northern city of Allahabad, recently renamed Prayagraj - and can be counted on to arrive in massive colourful processions.

At the last Kumbh in 2013, female ascetics were allowed to bathe at the confluence of the rivers - known as the Sangam - for the first time. A few hundred transgender people were among those who bathed on Tuesday morning.