Har Simran Das, from the northern state of Haryana, owns 300 cows. Until two years ago when he became a sadhu (ascetic) and joined an akhara (religious commune), he dabbled in village-level politics.
“Ever since my childhood, I wanted to serve the people. Now my children are all grown up and living their own lives, I thought this was the time for me to fulfil my dream.”
Mr Das says he is attending the Kumbh on orders from his guru, but he doesn’t believe that bathing at the Sangam will cleanse him of his sins.
“If we worship god morning and evening, but do bad deeds for the rest of the day, then I’m not a true disciple.”
Chhote Lal, a farmer from Madhya Pradesh, has been in Allahabad for the last few days and has been coming everyday for a bath at the Sangam – where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet the mythical Saraswati river.
“My life’s nearly over, but I wish well for my family and I’m here to pray for them. Millions of people visit the Kumbh festival, they must be coming here for something.”