India’s Kumbh Mela festival begins amid Covid concerns

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  • Kumbh Mela

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionMillions usually attend what is one of the most auspicious events in the Hindu calendar

Thousands of pilgrims have gathered on the banks of India's Ganges river at the start of the Kumbh Mela, billed as the world's largest human gathering.

One of the most auspicious events in Hinduism is taking place this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds bathed on day one of the festival, seeking to wash away sins.

Officials say they are following pandemic guidelines, but most bathers are not wearing masks. Only the US has more Covid cases than India.

However, India has lower death rates than many nations and is not in lockdown.

Hindus believe bathing will help them attain "moksha", setting them free from the cycle of birth and death.

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