Millions of devout Hindus plunge into Ganges River in festival ritual to wash away their sins

Associated Press

ALLAHABAD, India - Millions of devout Hindus have plunged into the holy Ganges River in India in a ritual they believe can wash away their sins.

Monday is considered the most auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, that lasts 55 days and is one of the world's largest religious gatherings. The day's significance is based on astrological signs.

Top festival official Mani Prasad Mishra says nearly 3 million people bathed by late morning and 11 million were expected to enter the frigid water by day's end.

Devout Hindus believe bathing in the Ganges during the festival can cleanse their sins and free them from the cycle of death and rebirth.

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