In Vedic Scriptures, it is said that paradise can be gained by living in the confluence of the three sacred rivers for at least three days and liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth may be obtained through purification by swimming in the holy waters at auspicious moments. The precise dates of the festival, based on the lunar and not the solar calendar, vary from one year to the next. The police have warned that the crucial days will be 14, 15, 19 and 23 January.
The Indian authorities are expecting 10 million people to turn up today alone. The government finances the event: tents have been set up across a huge area capable of hosting two million people.
Security is high. "Controlling crowds will be our top priority as we are expecting up to 50 million people throughout the festival,” said a local state official. There are 20,000 policemen deployed across the area to prevent dangerous overcrowding. Many will be in plain clothes.
According to Hindu mythology, gods and demons fought a war for a vase (called kumbh) of divine nectar.