Sheik Basaam Kaleel, 41, baptizes Osama Omar of Baghdad, 11, left, on the first day of the annual Golden Day of Baptism in Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq. Mandeans are a small pre-Christian sect who view the John the Baptist as their savior. The religion combines some aspects of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Gnosticism. There are an estimated 100,000 Mandeans worldwide, mainly in Iraq and Iran. Baptism is the most important rite. The central rite of the Mandean cult is immersion in water, which is regarded as a symbol of life. The greater the number of ablutions performed the better.