Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather at a sacred river for a bath in the river. It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. Thus the Kumbh Mela is held at each of these four places every twelfth year.
The rivers at these four places are: the Ganges at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Prayag, the Godawari at Nasik, and the Shipra at Ujjain.
The pilgrimage is held for about one and a half months at each of these four places where for Hinduism is believed that drops of nectar fell from the Kumbh carried by gods after the sea was churned.
The festival is billed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”. There is no scientific method of ascertaining the number of pilgrims as it may vary very widely from two to eight million.
The current Kumbh Mela began on 14 January 2013 at Allahabad (Prayag) where a stampede on the Allahabad Railway station is said to have left more than 37 dead and 39 injured.
Hindu Naga Sadhus (holy men) shiver after bathing at the ritual bathing, believing that taking a holy dip in the Ganges at this time washes away their sins and paves the path to salvation.
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