By Sena Guler
The Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival which is considered as one of the world’s largest religious gathering, started in India on Tuesday, local media reported.
The festival hosts millions of people each year who gather to bath in Ganges and Yamuna rivers to “wash away their sins.”
The festival, which is held annually at one of the four sacred places of Hinduism, is being held in northern city of Prayag -- previously called Allahabad -- for the first time in six years.
The other three places where the festival is held include Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.
According to Times of India, over 16,000 people took a “holy dip” at the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, marking the first day of the festival.
“For the devout, a bath at Sangam during the seven-week event cleanses their body and soul, and frees them form the unending cycle of life and death,” the daily said.
Around 150 million people are expected to join the festival, it said, adding that the festival was spread over 32-square-kilometer (3,200 hectares).
“Thousands of colorful tents have brought both beauty and symmetry to the Mela ground,” the Times of India said.
According to the Hindustan Times, over 20,000 police, paramilitary and other personnel have been deployed in the Kumbh Mela area for security.
It added that over 120,000 toilets had also been set up.