The Straits Times
Published on Feb 10, 2013

Millions of Indians bathe on Kumbh Mela's holiest day


ALLAHABAD, India (AFP) - Tens of millions of Hindus were expected on Sunday to plunge into India's sacred river Ganges to wash away their sins on the most auspicious day of the world's largest religious festival.

Organisers estimated some 30 million ash-smeared saints, devotees and visitors would take a dip in the swirling, freezing river at the festival in Allahabad in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Sunday, when the water is considered to be the holiest and most auspicious, is "the most crucial day for the pilgrims and for police", police officer Ajit Tyagi told AFP.

The biggest concern is crowd control, he added. "We have to make sure everyone is safe." More than 7,000 policemen have been deployed to oversee the Sunday bathing ritual, along with 30,000 volunteers, he said.