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ALLAHABAD : Dip for the Faithful

From the length and breadth of India, devout Hindus are converging on the banks of the holy Ganges for a ritual believed to have its roots in the creation of the universe.

A dip in the waters of the blessed river during the Kumbh festival, which ends in late February, will, it is said, cleanse and purify the soul. So people come by the multitudes. Six years ago, 15 million of the faithful streamed into Allahabad--the greatest recorded number of people ever assembled at a single spot for a common purpose.

This year, though, early attendance has been poor. Some blame chilly weather. Others cite mismanagement and favoritism in the allotment of land, electricity and water to pilgrims. And still others say the shifting course of the Ganges is to blame, making the closest campsites unusable for this year’s Kumbh.


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