A man takes a dip in the Ganga at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.

Kumbh Mela begins under a cloud of toxic air

The hazardous air may hinder the government's drive to make the festival a global tourism event

By AP in Allahabad
  • Published 15.01.19, 2:48 PM
  • Updated 21.01.19, 9:10 AM
  • a few seconds read
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AP
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A thick layer of dust hangs over the tent city set up for Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. The skies over the Sangam, the confluence of sacred rivers where millions have come to wash away their sins, are thick with toxic dust, a sign that officials are struggling to grapple with India's worsening air pollution.
AP
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A man holding a mace dances his way into the festival. Four sites in India rotate every three years hosting the Kumbh, the world's largest pilgrimage. The river baths, prayer, meditation and yoga sessions and other religious rituals are organised by sadhus, and financially supported with public funds.
AP
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A boy rests in a makeshift night shelter for devotees. Tens of millions throng to the Kumbh for a holy dip, many with little money, few provisions and nowhere to sleep.
AP
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Security personnel take oath to execute their duties honestly after offering prayers at the Sangam. For this year's Kumbh, the government shelled out more than Rs 400 crore, hoping to impress voters ahead of the general elections this year and draw visitors from around the world.
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Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, head of the Kinnar Akhara for transgenders, holds two infants to bless them while riding on a camel during a procession towards the Sangam.
AP
Photo Credit: AP
A man paints a boat ahead of Kumbh Mela under a gloomy sky. The dust plumes encompassing the Kumbh camp come from the sandy riverbanks, and not from construction, which is banned during the 55-day festival, according to Allahabad commissioner Ashish Goel.