Millions of devout Hindus from across India braved snow-fed waters Monday to take sin-cleansing baths at the confluence of two sacred rivers on the holiest day of the world's oldest and largest religious festival.

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted officials as saying up to 15 million Hindus converged on Allahabad, 375 miles southeast of New Delhi, for ritual dips during the most auspicious period of the "Kumbh Mela" festival.Bathing began at dawn, with men, women and children jostling to enter the frigid waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, which are born in the snow-covered Himalayas and join at Allahabad.

Hindus believe a mythical river, the invisible Saraswathi, also converges with the Ganges and Yamuna in Allahabad and that bathing there during the festival will free them of their sins.