Millions of Hindu enthusiast will take a holy dip in the Ganges River on Monday on one of the six most propitious days to bathe during Kumbh Mela – the world’s largest religious festival.
More than 18 million pilgrims – led by naked, ash-smeared anchorite – entered the terra last week as the festival began.
During the eight-week convention at Prayagraj, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, up to 150 million people, counting a million foreign visitors, are expected to bathe at the convergence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and a fabulous third river, the Saraswati.
For the first time at the Kumbh Mela, an epicene ashram known as the Kinnar Akhara and led by rights LGBTQ activist Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi from Mumbai joined the holy bathing. Tripathi, a tattooed epicene leader and a former reality TV star, has become an unlikely icon at the festival.
India legalised gay sex in September, but the LGBTQ circle still faces preconception in the deeply religious country.
The Kumbh Mela festival has its rhizome in a Hindu heritage that says the God Vishnu wrested a golden pot holding the nectar of constancy from cacodemon.
In a 12-day fight for guardianship, four drops fell to Earth, in the cities of Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, which now share the Kumbhs.