Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have gathered on the banks of the Turag river in Tongi, near Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, to attend the three-day Biswa Ijtema.

The Biswa Ijtema, also known as the World Muslim's Congregation, is one of the largest congregations of the followers of Islam. Believers from different parts of the country as well as from far-off places such as China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia participate in the ceremony. This event has been organised every year since 1946.

The Tablighi Jamaat is a movement within Islam. It is based on the teachings of Hazrat Mawlana Ilyas. His teachings are meant to spiritually uplift the Muslims.

The congregation began with Friday prayers amid tight security. More than 12,000 security personnel will remain deployed during the event.

This year, the event is organised in two phases. In the first phase (January 13-15), participants from 32 districts will join. In the second phase (January 20-22), participants from other parts of the country will join.

Devotees take part in the Friday prayer on a boat during Biswa Ijtema near Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.Reuters
Devotees take part in the Friday prayer during Biswa Ijtema.Reuters
A member of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) looks through a pair of binoculars as devotees arrive to take part in the Friday prayer at Biswa Ijtema.Reuters
Devotees arrive to take part in the Friday prayer during Biswa Ijtema in Dhaka January 13, 2012. Thousands of Muslims joined the first phase of Bishwa Ijtema.Reuters