Geeta Pandey, India, (BBC News), Kumbh Mela: world’s biggest gathering of people is going to held between now and March organizers expect about 120 million pilgrims to bathe at the Sangam – the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers.
Hindus believe that doing so will cleanse them of their sins and help them attain salvation and it will help them to free from the cycle of birth and death.
So how does one prepare for a gathering of humanity so mammoth it can be seen from outer space?
The mela is held in the northern city of Allahabad (recently renamed Prayagraj) every 12 years.
On Tuesday, when the festival formally begins, officials are preparing for 15 to 20 million visitors. But the biggest test they face will be on 4 February when 30 million are expected to attend for the most auspicious bathing day. The festival ends on 4 March.
This year’s festival is an “ardh Kumbh” – a “half-size” version that falls mid-way between two Kumbhs – but there’s nothing diminutive about it. In fact, it’s much bigger than the last full Kumbh held in 2013.