, 6 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Spirituality, politics and tourism: India's Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious festival, begins Tuesday. Here are some glimpses from the eight-week festival at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. reut.rs/2D8ZKti by @AlasdairPal @dansiddiqui #KumbhMela2019 1/5
Authorities expect up to 150 million people, including a million foreign visitors, to bathe at the confluence of the river Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati. reut.rs/2FwfFUh via @ReutersTV 2/5
Pilgrims, led by naked, ash-smeared ascetics will plunge themselves into the cold waters during the first Shahi Snan, or Royal Bath. Devotees believe bathing in these waters absolves people of sins and brings salvation from the cycle of life and death. 3/5
Authorities have set up temporary bridges, 600 mass kitchens and over 100,000 portable toilets in a pop-up city for the event. Those with cash can stay at luxury campsites that offer ayurvedic spas and yoga, and cost up to 32,000 rupees ($455) a night. 4/5
This year's event comes at a critical time for PM Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, expected to face a tough contest in an election due by May. A good showing in the state of Uttar Pradesh that has a population of 220 million often decides who wins. 5/5
UPDATE: Hindu ascetics lead millions of pilgrims in holy bath on the first official day of India's Kumbh Mela reut.rs/2FzUctn by @AlasdairPal #Kumbh2019
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