Rainstorm kills 6, hurts 30 during Hindu pilgrimage in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — A heavy rainstorm Thursday collapsed tents and gates at a sprawling Hindu pilgrimage site in central India, killing at least six people and injuring 30, police said.

Police officer M.S. Verma said the storm pounded the area for about 45 minutes. The injured were rushed to hospitals.

Devotees live in the tents during the monthlong pilgrimage. Nearly 2 million people are participating in the “Kumbh Mela,” during which Hindus bathe in a sacred river in the town of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh state. The festival is held every 12 years in Ujjain, which Hindus consider to be one of the most sacred places in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted he was anguished over the loss of lives.

A major attraction of the festival is ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath) which takes place on predetermined dates. Hindus believe that sins accumulated in past and current lives require them to continue the cycle of death and rebirth until they are cleansed. Bathing in the river is believed to rid the devotees of their sins.