Holy men prepare to greet millions of Hindu pilgrims who have traveled to bathe in sacred waters at the ancient Kumbh Mela festival.
It is expected that about 12 million visitors will descend to Allahabad in northern India for the world's largest religious festival, authorities in Uttar Pradesh said. Parties officially start on Tuesday and continue until the beginning of March.
The ancient city lies on the banks of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers, and the meeting point of the three is considered to be most sacred in Hinduism.
A sadhu is covered with ash in his tent while using a cell phone for the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad, North India
It is expected that around 12 million visitors will descend to Allahabad for the world's largest religious festival, which officially starts Tuesday and continues until the beginning of March.
A Hindu holy man with his head wrapped in a headscarf runs on a road on the spot of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival
Hindu holy men take part in a religious procession to the Sangam area as they cross a pontoon bridge during the royal entrance & # 39; for the Kumbh Mela
A boy is dressed after he has taken a holy dive in Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati
Hindus believe that bathing there during the Kumbh Mela helps to cleanse sins and liberates the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Two days before the gigantic bathing ritual begins, naked holy men wander through the banks with ashes and offer blessings for devotees.
Other visitors brought elephants and sang religious hymns during processions that took place before the festivities began.
Some devotees were even photographed by taking a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam benches, prior to the official start of the festival on Tuesday.
An Indian holy man painted in ashes smokes as he sits in his tent under the Juna Akhara, a sadhu order, community
A man dries his hair after he has entered the Triveni Sangam shores – a process that is thought to help cleanse sins and free the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth
Another group of women washes and washes pots in the water before the start of the Kumbh Mela festival in North India
A few Hindu lovers ride on an elephant decorated with paint and yellow cloth during a massive religious procession
A holy man prepares tea outside his tent with a group for the start of the Kumbh Mela festival – which ends in March
"We help devotees to remove their pain and problems through our blessings, sacred ashes, yoga, knowledge and wisdom," said Prahlad Puri, a holy man with his long-knotted hair bound in a bun.
We distribute food, we serve the poor. & # 39;
According to Hindu mythology, gods and demons fought a war over a holy pitcher, or kumbh, which contains the nectar of immortality.
Another holy man saw the entrance of his bright orange and gold tent cleaning with a broom in preparation for the event
Fans of banners and dressed in bright colors sing a religious hymn during a procession prior to the festival
Indian devotees from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) take part in a religious procession
The festival attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims to the holy confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers for 49 days between January 15 and March 4
During the fighting, a few drops fell on the earth at four different locations – one of which is Allahabad.
The historic city was recently renamed Prayagraj by the conservative Hindu government of the state, but is still widely known to Allahabad – the name given hundreds of years ago by Muslim rulers.
The Mela, which runs from 15 January to 4 March, was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2017.
Worshipers ride on camels in the festival grounds on Sunday January 13 during the royal entry & # 39; for the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad
A naked holy man, or Hindu Sadhu, is smoking next to a bonfire while he prepares tea outside his tent in North India
Another holy man dressed in orange cloth carries a monkey on his shoulder while he has the procession of 'royal access'. watches