Half a million Hindus bathe in India’s Ganges; first day crush kills 7

January 14, 2010

Devotees take dip in waters of river Ganges during "Kumbh Mela" in Haridwar, 14 Jan 2010/Adnan Abidi

Hundreds of thousands of Hindus bathed in waters considered sacred across large parts of India to mark the start of a religious festival on Thursday, with at least seven people killed in a stampede in the country’s east.

At least half a million men, women and children braved chilly winds to bathe in the icy waters of the Ganges in the holy Himalayan town of Haridwar at the “Kumbh Mela,” or Pitcher Festival, held every 12 years in different Indian cities. Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges during the almost four-month-long festival cleanses them of their sins, speeding the way to the attainment of nirvana.

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Hindu women wash at river Ganges ahead of "Kumbh Mela" in Haridwar, 13 Jan 2010/Adnan Abidi

The ritual bathing takes place in other venues as well, with massive crowds often leading to accidents. In West Bengal state in the east, six women were among seven people killed in a stampede as thousands bathed at the confluence of Ganges river and the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

More than 50 million people from India and abroad are expected to visit the holy city of Haridwar over the next few months, authorities said.  Haridwar is one of four spots where Garuda, the winged steed of the Hindu god Vishnu, is said to have rested during a battle with demons over a pitcher of the divine nectar of immortality.

Reach the full story here.

Here’s a video detailing security measures for this huge festival:

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One comment

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Dear Writer,
Thanks for your wonderful coverages of this important Hindus mass gathering in holy places,taking bath in holy rivers,exchanging their pleasant and divine messages with passerby and it had really brought and re-energized our souls.
Because of over crowding, no correct follow up in traffic arrangements, some stampede happens.
That is avoidable by proper planning.
We want to follow, upkeep of our forefathers,ancestors and grand parents,parents belief on our family growth,prosperity and well being to other sections.
Your pictures are really praise worthy and note to recollect our memories.,

Posted by mdspatsy | Report as abusive