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ALLAHABAD, India – Some 200,000 Hindu pilgrims arrived at the confluence of two major Indian rivers Tuesday on the first major bathing day of a 45-day annual ritual known as the Magh Mela.
Many stay in makeshift houses or tents in the northern city of Allahabad, where the Yamuna river meets the Ganges as well as the mythical Saraswati river. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus are expected to take a dip in the holy waters on astronomically auspicious days.
In neighboring Nepal, Hindus offered prayers along the banks of the Hanumante river Tuesday as the monthlong Madhav Narayan festival started in the city of Bhaktapur. Devotees recite holy scriptures, and women fast for a month to pray for the longevity of their husbands.