14 January 2019
Pilgrims from across the world have gathered for the Kumbh Mela that is set to begin on January 15 in India. During the Kumbh Mela, millions of pilgrims including naked, ash-smeared ascetics, will bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and a mythical third river, the Saraswati.
Devout Hindus believe that bathing in the waters of the Ganges absolves people of sins and bathing at the time of the Kumbh brings salvation from the cycle of life and death. The government says about 100 million to 150 million people, including one million foreign tourists, are expected to attend over the eight-week festival period. Organizers are erecting temporary bridges, 600 mass kitchens, more than 100,000 portable toilets, and vast tents in a pop-up city on the banks of the two rivers.