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Close shave marks next step for naked holy men

Baba Ramshwal.
Baba Ramshwal.Kevin Frayer / AP

Kevin Frayer, a photographer with The Associated Press, took a series of photos of Hindu holy men before and after they had their beards and hair shaved off as part of the initiation ritual to become Naga Sadhus — naked holy men — at the Maha Kumbh Festival in Allahabad, India.

The initiation of new Naga Sadhus can only be performed at the Kumbh Mela, which occurs once every 12 years and sees millions of devotees converging at the confluence of three holy rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.

Editor's note: Photos taken on Feb. 13, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.