Hindu festival Kumbh Mela: Largest gathering in the world begins in India
Kumbh Mela, a 55 day Hindu festival, is underway. Billed as the biggest gathering in the world, Indian officials expect between 80 to 100 million people will attend. It is held every 12 years in the northern town of Allahabad where the sacred river Ganges flows. In 2001 more than 40 million people came together on the main bathing day of the festival, breaking a record for the biggest human gathering. Three other areas of India host smaller festivals every three years. The festival has its origins in Hindu mythology, which describes how gods and demons fought over a pitcher of a nectar which bestowed immortality on those who came into contact with it. The fight caused a few drops
of the nectar to fall on the four towns that now host the
festival: Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar. Pilgrims believe bathing in the Ganges will erase their sins.