The Maha Kumbh Mela (Grand Pitcher Festival), believed to be the largest religious gathering on Earth began today. Held every twelve years on the banks of the Sangam River, the confluence of three holy rivers--the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati, the festival celebrates a victory of gods over demons in a battle for the nectar of immortality. It begins with a ritual bath in the river's chilly waters.
During the battle four drops fell to Earth in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujain. Every three years a Kumbh Mela in held of one of the cities, but the one in Allahabad is the most revered. As many as 100 million pilgrims are expected to pass through in the next two months; 1.5 million have already gathered.