Thousands of Hindu devotees plunged into India’s Ganges river as the country kicked off one of the world’s largest religious festivals, Kumbh Mela. Hindu ascetics popularly called as Naga sadhus, putting ash all over and carrying tridents, led the bathers at the Kumbh Mela in the northern town of Haridwar.
All participants at this year’s event, that runs until the end of April should present a negative coronavirus test result before being allowed into the festival grounds. But social distancing remained only in words as the bathers jostled at the riverbank.
Hindu devotees believe that bathing in the waters of the Ganges would erase their sins and brings salvation from the cycle of life and death. Over 22,000 people bathed in the holy river. Authorities said that more than 100 million people attended the festival in 2019, a figure that most expect will be lower this year.