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Pictures | Thu Jan 17, 2019 | 2:40pm EST

Meeting at India's holy rivers

Naga Sadhus or Hindu holy men take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath) at "Kumbh Mela" or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 15, 2019. Ash-smeared and dreadlocked Naga sadhus or Hindu ascetics, naked except for rosary beads and garlands and smoking wooden pipes, are a huge draw at the world's largest religious festival that began this week in India.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus or Hindu holy men take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath) at "Kumbh Mela" or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 15, 2019. Ash-smeared and dreadlocked Naga sadhus or Hindu...more

Naga Sadhus or Hindu holy men take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath) at "Kumbh Mela" or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 15, 2019. Ash-smeared and dreadlocked Naga sadhus or Hindu ascetics, naked except for rosary beads and garlands and smoking wooden pipes, are a huge draw at the world's largest religious festival that began this week in India. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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A Naga sadhu or Hindu holy man waits for devotees inside his camp, January 17, 2019. At the Kumbh Mela, or "festival of the pot," held this year in Prayagraj in north India, organizers expect up to 150 million people to bathe at the confluence of three holy rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna and a mythical third river, the Saraswati.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A Naga sadhu or Hindu holy man waits for devotees inside his camp, January 17, 2019. At the Kumbh Mela, or "festival of the pot," held this year in Prayagraj in north India, organizers expect up to 150 million people to bathe at the confluence of...more

A Naga sadhu or Hindu holy man waits for devotees inside his camp, January 17, 2019. At the Kumbh Mela, or "festival of the pot," held this year in Prayagraj in north India, organizers expect up to 150 million people to bathe at the confluence of three holy rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna and a mythical third river, the Saraswati. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi (C), chief of the "Kinnar Akhada" congregation for transgender people and other members take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The Kumbh Mela has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the god Vishnu wrested a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality from demons. In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, who share the Kumbhs as a result.


REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi (C), chief of the "Kinnar Akhada" congregation for transgender people and other members take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The Kumbh Mela has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the...more

Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi (C), chief of the "Kinnar Akhada" congregation for transgender people and other members take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The Kumbh Mela has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the god Vishnu wrested a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality from demons. In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, who share the Kumbhs as a result. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Hindu holy men leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The festival is one of the only opportunities to see the reclusive Naga sadhus, some of whom live in caves after taking a vow of celibacy and renouncing worldly possessions.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Hindu holy men leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The festival is one of the only opportunities to see the reclusive Naga sadhus, some of whom live in caves after taking a vow of celibacy and...more

Hindu holy men leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. The festival is one of the only opportunities to see the reclusive Naga sadhus, some of whom live in caves after taking a vow of celibacy and renouncing worldly possessions. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Hindu holy men prepare to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. Their charge down to the waters to bathe at the opening of the Kumbh, many armed with tridents and swords, is one of the highlights of the festival.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Hindu holy men prepare to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. Their charge down to the waters to bathe at the opening of the Kumbh, many armed with tridents and swords, is one of the highlights of the...more

Hindu holy men prepare to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. Their charge down to the waters to bathe at the opening of the Kumbh, many armed with tridents and swords, is one of the highlights of the festival. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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The hand of a Sadhu, who has not moved his arm and cut his fingernails for 10 years, is raised inside his camp, January 17, 2019. Most of the Nagas enter the orders in their early teens, leaving their friends and families to immerse themselves in meditation, yoga and religious rituals. It can take years to be conferred with the title of a Naga, they say.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The hand of a Sadhu, who has not moved his arm and cut his fingernails for 10 years, is raised inside his camp, January 17, 2019. Most of the Nagas enter the orders in their early teens, leaving their friends and families to immerse themselves in...more

The hand of a Sadhu, who has not moved his arm and cut his fingernails for 10 years, is raised inside his camp, January 17, 2019. Most of the Nagas enter the orders in their early teens, leaving their friends and families to immerse themselves in meditation, yoga and religious rituals. It can take years to be conferred with the title of a Naga, they say. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Naga Sadhus arrive to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. "One has to live a life of celibacy for six years. After that the person is given the title of a great man and 12 years after that he is made a Naga," said Digambar Kedar Giri, a Naga sadhu from Jaipur.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus arrive to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. "One has to live a life of celibacy for six years. After that the person is given the title of a great man and 12 years after that he is made a Naga," said...more

Naga Sadhus arrive to take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. "One has to live a life of celibacy for six years. After that the person is given the title of a great man and 12 years after that he is made a Naga," said Digambar Kedar Giri, a Naga sadhu from Jaipur. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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A man dries sarees after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. During the eight-week Kumbh, generally held every three years in one of four cities in India, the Nagas live in makeshift monasteries called Akhara erected on the eastern banks of the Ganges. They spend their days meditating, smoking cannabis and receiving a stream of visitors who come to pay their respects.

REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

A man dries sarees after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. During the eight-week Kumbh, generally held every three years in one of four cities in India, the Nagas live in makeshift monasteries called Akhara...more

A man dries sarees after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. During the eight-week Kumbh, generally held every three years in one of four cities in India, the Nagas live in makeshift monasteries called Akhara erected on the eastern banks of the Ganges. They spend their days meditating, smoking cannabis and receiving a stream of visitors who come to pay their respects. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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A boy is dressed after a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, ahead of the "Kumbh Mela" festival, January 13, 2019. 

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A boy is dressed after a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, ahead of the "Kumbh Mela" festival, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A boy is dressed after a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, ahead of the "Kumbh Mela" festival, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Devotees take a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 14, 2019. "It feels surreal: all this time you have read about them. They are almost like fictional characters and then you meet them," said a woman who gave her name as Pallavi, on a visit to the Akharas.

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Devotees take a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 14, 2019. "It feels surreal: all this time you have read about them. They are almost like fictional characters and then you meet them," said a...more

Devotees take a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 14, 2019. "It feels surreal: all this time you have read about them. They are almost like fictional characters and then you meet them," said a woman who gave her name as Pallavi, on a visit to the Akharas. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Sadhus leave after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Sadhus leave after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Sadhus leave after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Children, dressed up as a Hindu god and goddess, look on as they beg for alms, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Children, dressed up as a Hindu god and goddess, look on as they beg for alms, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Children, dressed up as a Hindu god and goddess, look on as they beg for alms, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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Devotees leave after taking a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Devotees leave after taking a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Devotees leave after taking a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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A Naga Sadhu arrives to take part in a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

A Naga Sadhu arrives to take part in a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

A Naga Sadhu arrives to take part in a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
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People ride on an elephant during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

People ride on an elephant during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

People ride on an elephant during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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Naga Sadhus leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus leave after taking a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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A general view of the illuminated site of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A general view of the illuminated site of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A general view of the illuminated site of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Devotees pray after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Devotees pray after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Devotees pray after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Naga Sadhus take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Naga Sadhus take a dip during the first "Shahi Snan" (grand bath), January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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A Sadhu watches a religious ceremony ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

A Sadhu watches a religious ceremony ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

A Sadhu watches a religious ceremony ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
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Devotees take a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Devotees take a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Devotees take a holy dip, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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A Sadhu looks on during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

A Sadhu looks on during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

A Sadhu looks on during a religious procession ahead of the "Kumbh Mela", January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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Children dressed as "goddesses" follow a religious procession, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Children dressed as "goddesses" follow a religious procession, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Children dressed as "goddesses" follow a religious procession, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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A Naga Sadhu smokes outside his tent, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A Naga Sadhu smokes outside his tent, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A Naga Sadhu smokes outside his tent, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, chief of the "Kinnar Akhara" congregation for transgender people, dances and sings with her followers, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, chief of the "Kinnar Akhara" congregation for transgender people, dances and sings with her followers, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, chief of the "Kinnar Akhara" congregation for transgender people, dances and sings with her followers, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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