Tens of thousands of Indian pilgrims have journeyed to the Ganges river in Allahabad celebrate Maha Kumbh Mela - believed to be the world's biggest religious festival.

Held once every 12 years, the two-month event could see up to 100 million people come to the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers converge with the mythical Saraswati river, in order to wash away their sins.

With so many people expected to congregate, there is already a heavy police presence. Even actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is hoping to visit the area, the Press Trust of India reports.

maha kumbh mela

The festival is characterised by the symbolism of bathing to wash away one's sins

She said: "I really want to visit India again specifically during the pilgrimage and I'm told it is a sight to behold for the eyes and soul. I'm hoping to find what I'm looking for here. I'm trying to make this happen with my family. If that doesn't work out I'm definitely coming on my own."

India Today reports: "Chaotic as it is, there has been some effort. The mela authorities have put in place comprehensive apparatuses to thwart any kind of terrorist activity, crowd skirmishes and stampedes or any other law and order challenge."

According to Reuters, the festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the god Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality.

In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujain and Nasik. Every three years a Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all.

The festival, which is known as Makar Sankranti on the first day, is more than 2,000 years old.

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  • A horse mount naked Hindu holy man or a Naga Sadhu beats the drum as he returns after a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati on one of the most auspicious day Makar Sankranti, the first day of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year, where devotees wash themselves in the waters of the Ganges believing that it washes away their sins and ends the process of reincarnation. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

  • An Indian Hindu holy man, or Naga Sadhu, prays while taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian Hindu holy men, or Naga Sadhus, celebrate naked in the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Hindu devotees take a dip Sangam, the confluence of the Rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati for a dip on one of the most auspicious day Makar Sankranti, the first day of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year, where devotees wash themselves in the waters of the Ganges believing that it washes away their sins and ends the process of reincarnation. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

  • Indian Hindu holy men, or Naga Sadhus, run naked into the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • A naked Hindu holy man or a Naga Sadhu shout slogans after a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati on one of the most auspicious day Makar Sankranti, the first day of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation, which falls every 12 years and lasts for a period of over a month, during which devotees wash themselves in the waters of the Ganges believing that it washes away their sins and ends the process of reincarnation. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

  • An Indian Hindu holy man, or Naga Sadhus, swings his hair as he bathes at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian Hindu holy men, or Naga Sadhus, run naked into the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian Hindu perform prayer rituals at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • EDS NOTE NUDITY - Indian Hindu holy men, or Naga Sadhus, run into the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian Hindu holy men, or Sadhus, are silhouetted as they celebrate in the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath on Makar Sankranti at the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation that lasts more than 50 days on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, warms himself by jumping up and down before taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad, india, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious gathering that lasts for more than a month on the banks of Sangam and falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • A naked Naga Sadhu, or a Hindu holy man, center, prays before taking a dip as a devotee watches amidst morning fog at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

  • Indian Hindu pilgrims, some with shaved heads, take a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • A Naked Hindu holy man or a Naga Sadhu leaves after breakfast at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati river, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam, which falls every 12 years. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

  • A Hindu devotee smokes marijuana at the Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival, in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Indians take photographs of holy men during a religious procession towards the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

  • Indians watch an elephant during a religious procession towards the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

  • An Indian Sikh walks past a group of Indian holy men waiting to participate in a religious procession towards the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

  • A group of Hindu devotees walk in a procession as they perform rituals on the beach at Gangasagar, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. The annual holy dip at Gangasagar, the confluence of Ganges River and Bay of Bengal, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Kolkata, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, is scheduled on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Indian women carrying lamps proceed for a ritual on the beach at Gangasagar, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. The annual holy dip at Gangasagar, the confluence of Ganges River and Bay of Bengal, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Kolkata, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti is scheduled on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Indian passersby watch camp and festival ground enveloped in a morning fog at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh festival, in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Hindu devotees cross a makeshift bridge over the river Ganges as they arrive at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, for the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

  • Hindu devotees dance as they walk in a religious procession on the beach in Gangasagar, India, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. The annual holy dip at Gangasagar, the confluence of Ganges River and Bay of Bengal, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Kolkata, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti is scheduled on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Hindu devotees sing and dance as they walk in a religious procession on the beach in Gangasagar, India, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. The annual holy dip at Gangasagar, the confluence of Ganges River and Bay of Bengal, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Kolkata, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti is scheduled on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

  • Indian Hindu holy men, or Sadhus, take part in a procession before taking a bath at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • An Indian Hindu prays before taking a bath at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian security watch from boats as a woman prays while taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • An Indian Hindu holy man, or Sadhu, walks before taking a bath at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian Hindu pilgrims bathe at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • An Indian Hindu is helped after being overcome while taking a bath at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, Sunday Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

  • Indian women Hindu devotees dry their clothes after taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • A Hindu holy man drinks the river Ganges' water at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, ahead of the Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad, India, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Millions of Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in the large religious congregation of a period of over a month on the banks of Sangam during the Maha Kumbh festival in January 2013, which falls every 12th year. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)