Come tomorrow, an astonishing tens of millions of pilgrims are expected to take a dip in the chilly waters at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati River in Allahabad. February 10 is the holiest -- and hugest -- bathing date for the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela.
But why February 10?
This date is known as Mauni Amavasya, the new moon during the Hindu month of Magh when both the sun and moon are in Capricorn. The term "Mauni" comes from "muni" (holy man) and refers to an ascetic who practices mauna (silence). This is a particularly important aspect of spiritual discipline and it has the highest spiritual merit. It symbolizes a state of oneness with the self, and the initiation of an inner dialogue.
The month of "Magh" relates to the elimination of sin and obtaining salvation, and the Hindu scriptures discuss the Magh Snan (ritual bath during Magh) as the ritual for achieving this.
Find out more about the 2013 Kumbh Mela auspicious bathing dates and their meaning or check out photos of the Kumbh Mela in this gallery.