• Naked Hindu holy men prepare to bath in the Godavari River during Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, at Trimbakeshwar in Nasik, India, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Hindus believe taking a dip in the waters of a holy river during the festival, will cleanse them of their sins.  According to Hindu mythology, the Kumbh Mela celebrates the victory of gods over demons in a furious battle over a nectar that would give them immortality. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    AP PHOTOS: Hindu holy men lead bath rituals in Indian river

    NASIK, India (AP) — Brass bands played and people passed out fruit and cookies as hundreds of thousands of Hindu holy men and believers plunged into the Godavari River to wash away their sins on the first “royal” day of bathing at one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

  • In this Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, photo, a Hindu devotee performs a holy dip in the Godavari River during Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, in Nasik, India. Water is central to many religions: Christians perform baptisms, Orthodox Jews seek ritual purity in mikvah baths, Muslims wash themselves before prayer. To the millions of Hindus expected at the Kumbh Mela festival, held this year along the Godavari, touching that water, which is far from the cleanest you could find, is reverential. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    India’s polluted waters cleanse spirits at Hindu festival

    NASIK, India (AP) — It’s just water, and far from the cleanest you could find. Raw sewage often flows in the Godavari River, bringing with it high bacteria levels. Residue from sand mining can cloud the water. Farm pesticides leech through the soil.

  • Hindu devotees take holy dip in the River Godavari on the first official day of bathing as part of Kumbh Mela celebrations in Nasik, India, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. 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 sacred waters on the most auspicious day of the Kumbh festival, or Pitcher Festival, believers say rids them of their sins. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    AP PHOTOS: Thousands bathe at riverside festival in India

    NASIK, India (AP) — Thousands of devout Hindus began splashing into a west Indian river for the first official day Wednesday of bathing at one of the country’s largest festivals.

  • This undated file photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. The nearly 2,000-year-old temple in the Syrian city of Palmyra this week was the latest victim in the Islamic State group’s campaign of destruction of historic sites across the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria. Arabic at bottom reads, "The moment of detonation of the pagan Baalshamin temple in the city of Palmyra." (Islamic State social media account via AP, File)

    In Islamic State war, like others, heritage always a target

    CAIRO (AP) — A nearly 2,000-year-old temple in the Syrian city of Palmyra this week was the latest victim in the Islamic State group’s campaign of destruction of historic sites across the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.