By BERNAT ARMANGUE, Associated Press
NASIK, India (AP) — It’s just water. But to the millions of Hindus expected at the Kumbh Mela festival, held this year along the Godavari, touching that water is reverential.
It’s a way to cleanse themselves of sin, to come close to God, to immerse themselves in a tradition that dates to antiquity. They have come to this city from across India and around the world. Entire villages arrive together, and their parties often last through the nights. Thousands of mystics gather.
Water is central to many religions: Christians perform baptisms, Orthodox Jews seek ritual purity in mikvah baths, Muslims wash themselves before prayer. Believers in both Catholicism and voodoo find solace in the waters of Haiti’s Saut d’Eau waterfall.