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Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 11:24 GMT
In pictures: Bathing day
Millions of pilgrims have been taking part in a bathing ceremony in the river Ganges as part of the Hindu religious festival - the Kumbh Mela.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees
The Hindu devotees gathered at dawn at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers with a third mythical river.

Nagas, one of the most important in the hierarchy of Hindu holy men, rushed to take a plunge.
Before dawn, devotees were led to the water by groups of Hindu holy men, including nagas.

The Nagas are considered one of the most important in the hierarchy of Hindu holy men.
The naked, ash-smeared ascetics rushed into the water blowing conch horns and tossing marigold garlands into the air.

Over 70 million people are expected to bathe at the Kumbh Mela over a period of 6 weeks.
Over 70 million people are expected to bathe at the Kumbh Mela over a period of 6 weeks.


On the shore, pilgrims performed religious rituals

By the middle of the day, about 4m pilgrims were believed to have stepped into the water.
By the middle of the day, about 4m pilgrims were believed to have stepped into the water.

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See also:

07 Jan 01 | South Asia
Millions flock to Hindu festival
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
In pictures: India's colourful festival
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