ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION The Indian government said about 100 million to 150 million people, including one million foreign tourists, are expected to attend the Kumbh Mela festival over an eight-week period beginning on Tuesday (January 15), and the scale of the efforts to feed and house the pilgrims is immense.
Organisers were erecting temporary bridges, 600 mass kitchens, more than 100,000 portable toilets, and vast tents, each sleeping thousands of pilgrims at a time, in a pop-up city on the banks of the two rivers.
Devout Hindus believe that bathing in the waters of the Ganges absolves people of sins and bathing at the time of the Kumbh brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.
The Kumbh Mela -- directly translates as "pot festival" -- is traditionally held every three years in one of four cities along India's sacred rivers, with one of the largest of those in Prayagraj.
The festival has its roots in a Hindu story that says the god Vishnu wrested a golden pot (Kumbh) containing the nectar of immortality from demons.
In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, who share the Kumbh as a result.