LUCKNOW, India – Over a million devout Hindus plunged into the chilly waters of the revered Ganges River on Friday, as part of a pilgrimage to cleanse believers of their sins.
Since the festival started Jan. 3, nearly 70 million pilgrims from all over the world have immersed themselves in at the confluence of three of Hinduism's holiest rivers -- the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mystical Sarasvati.
The "Ardh Kumbh Mela" or Half Grand Pitcher Festival, is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, and is held every six years in the northern Indian town of Allahabad.
The devout wash themselves in the waters of the Ganges, believing it absolves them of their sins and ends the process of reincarnation.
Most of the pilgrims come from across India, but the event also draws some foreign Hindus and tourists.
The vast "Ardh Kumbh Mela" grounds turned into a tent city during the festival, with 50,000 police on hand.
According to Hindu mythology, gods and demons fought a celestial war over the nectar of immortality, spilling some of it at Allahabad from a pitcher, or Kumbh. A larger festival, the "Maha Kumbh Mela," or the Grand Pitcher Festival, takes place every 12 years.