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Close shave marks next step for naked holy men

Kevin Frayer / AP

Hindu holy man Baba Sanjay 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.

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.

Kevin Frayer / AP

Baba Ramshwal.

Kevin Frayer / AP

Brihaspst Giri.

Kevin Frayer / AP

Baba Vinod.

Kevin Frayer / AP

Baba Giri.