Hindu devotees, naked with bodies covered with white ritual Vibhuti holy ash and wearing strings of Marigold flowers, are carrying ceremonial poles at the Kumbh Mela 2013 Hindu festival near Allahabad (India).
Kumbh Mela is the largest festival on Earth, taking place once every 12 years, with more than 50 million Hindu pilgrims gathering to pray and bathe in the holy Ganges river.
Thousands of Naga Sadhus and Hindu devotees (often naked, with their bodies covered with wood ash) walk at dawn toward the bank of the Ganges river at the Sangam where they will take the Holy Dip. The Triveni Sangam is the confluence of the Yamuna and the Ganga (Ganges) rivers, and this is the holiest place to take the ritual baths during the Kumbh Mela.
This was the night and early morning of Vasant Panchami Snan day, an important religious date for Hindu people and one of the most auspicious mornings for taking the holy bath in the Ganges river.
For more info about Vibhuti, the Hindu holy ash, read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibhuti.
For more information about Vasant Panchami (or Basant Panchami), read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasant_Panchami.
For more photos and info about the Kumbh Mela festival, read the album description.