Hindus run in Ganges River to cleanse sins

Hindus run in Ganges River to cleanse sins

ALLAHABAD, India - The Associated Press
Hindus run in Ganges River to cleanse sins

Indian Hindu holy men run naked into the water at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, during the royal bath. AP Photo

Millions of devout Hindus plunged into India’s holy Ganges River yesterday in a ritual they believe can wash away their sins.

Monday is considered the most auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, which lasts 55 days and is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

Over 110 million people are expected to take a dip at the Sangam, the place where three rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, come together at the edge of this North Indian city.

There are six auspicious bathing days, decided by the alignment of stars, when the Hindu devout bathe to wash away their sins and free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth. The festival continues until March 10.

According to Hindu mythology, the Kumbh Mela celebrates the victory of gods over demons in a furious battle over a nectar that would give them immortality.

Thousands of naked Hindu holy men known as sadhus began the day by running to the river and plunging in amid a cacophony of religious chants.

Applause rose from pilgrims as the heads of various Hindu monasteries reached the bathing points, called ghats, riding silver chariots or carried on silver palanquins, and accompanied by marching bands.