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19 Jan, 2007 11:08

Sixty drown in the river Ganges

Sixty drown in the river Ganges

More than 60 people have been reported drowned on their way to a religious festival, after their overcrowded boat capsized in the Ganges. They were taking part in the New Moon festival which draws millions of Hindu pilgrims to the holy waters of the river

The ritual starts with scattering flowers over the waiting pilgrims. 

Then the Hindu holy men, Naga Sadhus, traditionally naked but covered with ash, lead thousands of pilgrims to the sacred waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers for the ritual swim.

It is believed that a wash in these waters will cleanse the soul and bring blessing and salvation.

This year thousands of faithful are threatening to boycott the ceremony as they say the water is too polluted to swim in.

The festival is one of the largest gatherings in the world. Organizers of the 45-day festival expect more than 10 million people to take part in the swim on Friday.