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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 10:39 GMT
In Pictures: Holy dip
Millions of Hindu pilgrims have been taking part in a holy dip at the banks of the Ganges in northern India on the most important day of the Kumbh Mela religious festival.

Pontoon bridges
From early morning millions of pilgrims made their way to the holy site, across specially constructed pontoon bridges

River's edge
They made their way to the banks of the Ganges river near where it meets the Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers

Naga sadhus
The first to bathe were the Naga sadhus, the most revered sect of Hindu holymen, who fiercely protect their special status

Holy man
Many smeared their forehead with paint and daubed their body with ashes after the dip


At the water's edge everyone is equal as rich mingle with poor, holy saints with ordinary pilgrims

Holy dip
A dip on this day is considered most auspicious and pilgrims believe the river waters have special powers of absolution

Tourist
But the Kumbh is not restricted to Indians and many tourists have been attracted by the extraordinary spiritual spectacle

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | South Asia
Millions at Kumbh Mela climax
11 Jan 01 | South Asia
Kumbh Mela: A personal pilgrimage
13 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
The greatest show on Earth
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