Millions attend Hindu festival

Tens of millions of Hindus have gathered on the banks of holy rivers in India for the main bathing day of the Kumbh Mela festival - one of the biggest religious gatherings in the world.

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Hindu pilgrims prepare for Maha Kumbh Mela

Tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims have begun arriving in the north Indian holy city of Allahabad for the festival Maha Kumbh Mela.

A vendor sells religious beads near banks of the River Ganges ahead of Kumbh Mela in Allahabad Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

The festival, said to be one of the world's largest gatherings of people, begins with millions of pilgrims taking a bath at the junction of the three holy rivers - the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati - to cleanse them of their sins.

Hindus apply oil on bodies after taking holy dip in the River Ganges ahead of the festival Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

Kumbh Mela brings a gathering of holy men, pilgrims and tourists to Allahabad every 12 years.

A Hindu priest holds oil lamp as performs evening prayers near the banks of the River Ganges Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

More than 40 million people congregated in the holy city at the last festival in 2001.

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