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Close shave for incoming holy men at Kumbh Mela festival in India (gallery)

Published: February 19, 2013

A series of before and after photographs show the striking difference in appearance those aspiring to be Naga Sadhus, or naked holy men, undergo following an initiation ritual at the Maha Kumbh Festival at Sangam, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad, India. The initiation of new Naga Sadhus can only be performed at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, which occurs once every 12 years and sees millions of devotees converging on the northern Indian city. The Kumbh Mela is widely considered to be the largest gathering of people for a religious purpose in the world.

Naga Sadhus

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In this combination of two photos taken Feb. 13, 2013, Hindu holy man Brihaspst Giri poses before and after he had his head and face shaved as part of an initiation ritual where he was to become a Naga Sadhu, or naked holy man, at the Maha Kumbh Festival at Sangam, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad, India. Kevin Frayer/AP

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