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Maha Kumbh Mela: Thousands Of Hindus Jump Into India's Ganges River (PICTURES, VIDEO)

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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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