|This man, one of millions of devout pligrims sincerely seeking for the truth at the is now hearing of God’s love through Christ.|
About 60 million people are expected at the 45-day event, which began January 3. Other important festival days are January 3, 15 and 23, and February 2 and 16.
Festival devotees offer prayers and go in processions to bathe in the waters where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, holy to the Hindus, converge. They seek forgiveness of sin and believe that bathing in these waters during the festival will wash away their sins and end the cycle of reincarnation.
BBC News compares the projected number of devotees expected at the event (60 million) to the number of people (1 million) who attend the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, Muslim pilgrims who annually travel to Mecca (3 million)—and the entire population of the United Kingdom (also 60 million).
To help accommodate these large crowds and promote safety, officials have set up a “city” of 50,000 tents over a 30 square-mile area, brought in 25,000 toilets and deployed a police force of around 20,000. Traffic has been rerouted from all roads leading to the river.
The history of Ardh Kumbh is based in Hindu mythology, which states that a celestial war was fought between gods and demons over a pitcher, or kumbh, of the nectar of immortality. Allahabad was one of the towns that received drops of nectar as they fell out from the pitcher during battle. Kumbh festivals are held in three of the other cities believed to have received drops of nectar, and take place every three years in one of the four locations.
Gospel for Asia workers are reaching out to Ardh Kumbh participants in Allahabad with God’s love, handing out large quantities of literature. A special focus of their outreach was January 14, one of the significant bathing days for pilgrims.
“They distributed 80,000 Scripture portions of God’s Word on just that one day,” says Simon John, Gospel for Asia’s area overseer.
“We are so grateful to God for the positive response from so many,” he adds, “as they hear about God’s love for them.”
GFA President K.P. Yohannan is asking Christians to pray during the remaining weeks of the festival. “Please pray for our workers who are serving at this event, and that many pilgrims will receive the Good News of forgiveness through our Lord.”