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India. Uttar Pradesh state. Allahabad. Maha Kumbh Mela. Royal bath on Basant Panchami Snan (fifth day of the new moon). The ritual "Royal Bath" is timed to match an auspicious planetary alignment, when believers say spiritual energy flows to earth. Naga (naked) Sadhus celebrate their joy before taking a dip in Sangam and worshiping the river Ganges. Naga sadhdus were once warriors, that's why they still carry weapons, such as an ax. The Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering is held every 12 years on the banks of the 'Sangam'- the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. In 2013, it is estimated that nearly 80 million devotees took a bath in the water of the holy river Ganges. The belief is that bathing and taking a holy dip will wash and free one from all the past sins, get salvation and paves the way for Moksha (meaning liberation from the cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth). Bathing in the holy waters of Ganga is believed to be most auspicious at the time of Kumbh Mela, because the water is charged with positive healing effects and enhanced with electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter. In Hinduism, Sadhu (good; good man, holy man) denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments. They are renouncers who have chosen to live a life apart from or on the edges of society in order to focus on their own spiritual practice. The significance of nakedness is that they will not have any worldly ties to material belongings, even something as simple as clothes. A Sadhu is usually referred to as Baba by common people. The axe is the weapon of Parashurama who is the sixth avatar of Vishnu, descendant of Brahma and pupil of Shiva. He is one of the seven immortals of Hinduism, or Chiranjivi. He received an axe after undertaking terrible penance to please Shiva. 15.02.13 © 2013 Didier Ruef