The Maha Kumbh began on Monday morning at allahabad with lakhs of devotees as well as ascetics and religious leaders of various orders converging on the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati here for a holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
Maha Kumbh 2013, being held after 12 years, will go on for next two months and will conclude on Maha Shivaratri on March 10. This time, the Kumbh is longer by 11 days, and people will congregate at the site for 55 days.
The most important part of the festival is the ritual bath (snan) in the sacred water amidst chanting of vedic hymns and mantras to liberate one from all suffering and miseries of life.
The first written evidence of the Kumbh Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveler Huan Tsang who visited India in 629-645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana.
According to medieval Hindu theology, its origin is found in one of the most popular medieval puranas, the Bhagavata Purana.
Haridwar, on the banks of Ganga in Uttarakhand, hosted the Purna Kumbh mela in 2010, where an estimated 40 million people took holy bath.
The ten-months-old Uttar Pradesh government led by Akhilesh Yadav is all decked up to showcase massive arrangements for the Kumbh Mela 2013 in Allahabad.