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Millions of devotees take a dip in Ganga to cleanse sins
The 55-day-long Maha Kumbh Mela, the most spectacular show of faith with the largest gathering of people on earth, began in Allahabad on January 14 with the purpose of seeking salvation from sins through a holy dip in the Ganga River.

According to an estimate, over 110 million people are expected to take part in this holy grandeur held at Sangam that will last for 55 days this year instead of usual 44 days. 

The Maha Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred and ancient congregations of pilgrims which has its origins in the Hindu mythology. According to the Hindu scriptures, during a battle between the celestials beings and the demons to claim the pot / kumbh of the nectar of immortality got spilt at four places called Prayag, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nasik. By rotation, Maha Kumbh Mela is observed four times; every 12 years at these four places where the nectar of immortality fell.

According to Hindu beliefs, humans have to go through different cycles of birth and death or incarnations to cleanse their sins through good thoughts and actions to attain salvation or moksha. Thus, the ultimate purpose of human life as per Hindu religious beliefs is to attain a state of release from the bondages, sufferings and strife caused by bad deeds or karmas.

Legend has it that a dip in the holy rivers on the occasion of Maha Kumbh Mela will wash away the sins committed in present and previous births to attain moksha by devotees.

It is said after visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote thus: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites."

The next Kumbh called "Simhastha" will be held at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh on the bank of river Shipra in 2016.

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