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
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
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
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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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.