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30 million bathe in Ganges for Kumbh Mela

Feb 14, 2013 , ,

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The world's biggest gathering of humanity took place yesterday on the banks of India's River Ganges. Up to 30 million people took part in a pilgrimage known as the Kumbh Mela. Hindu devotees have been travelling across India since the opening day of the festival on January the 14th. Then, just a modest eight million took a dip in the holy waters at a town called Sangam. This is where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers merge. Up to 100 million people will make their way to Sangam to bathe in the sacred waters during the 55-day event. This year is a special one, known as a Maha Kumbh Mela, which happens only once every 144 years. Hindus believe that bathing in the rivers will cleanse their sins and bring salvation.

Security has been particularly tight during this Kumbh Mela due to record numbers of attendees and the execution on Saturday of one of those who attacked the Indian parliament in 2001. Kashmiri Afzal Guru was hanged in the capital New Delhi for his part in the attack. Militants had promised to disrupt the Mela by causing a stampede. As a precaution, Indian police laid on thousands of extra officers to look for suspected terrorists. They also set up increased numbers of surveillance cameras. Meanwhile, a request went out to Indian celebrities to not visit the Mela at the busiest time. A police spokesman said the excitement created by a leading Bollywood actor or a popular singer could have resulted in a potentially deadly surge.

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