On the occasion of Maghi Purnima on Monday
Over 90 lakh pilgrims converged at the Sangam for the Maghi Purnima (full moon) snan amid clear weather conditions on Monday. This was the fifth and penultimate bathing day of the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela, which began on January 14 and is held here every 12 years.
The snan, which in terms of crowd strength turned out to be the second biggest snan of this mela, started at 4 a.m. Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi, seniormost official in-charge of the event, said the number of pilgrims taking a dip was expected to reach one crore by the end of Monday. The number far exceeded the administration’s estimation of 50-60 lakh pilgrims.
Keeping the influx in mind, special traffic arrangements were made and all sector magistrates and police and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel were put on alert, Mr. Chaturvedi said.
As a precautionary measure in the wake of the Hyderabad twin blasts, 30 bomb disposal and anti-sabotage teams were activated, said R.K.S. Rathore, Senior Superintendent of Police at the Kumbh Mela. He, however, said there was no input of any terror threat to the mela. Other than a small fire triggered by a gas cylinder leak, which did not cause any damage, no more untoward incident was reported from the sprawling 4,000 acre city of tents.
Also, coming two weeks after the stampede at the Allahabad Railway station on the biggest bathing day of the Mauni Amavasya Shahi snan that killed 37 persons, the railway stations continued to witness heavy rush of pilgrims.
The snan also marked the conclusion of Kalpvas, month-long of austerity undertaken by pilgrims at the Sangam every year in the month of Magh.
Transcending backgrounds of language, region, class and caste, lakhs of Kalpvasis spent the time together in flimsy, but colourful tents, taking a dip in the Sangam thrice daily, surviving on not more than one meal and restraining from venturing out of the premises.
For the first time, the administration looked strict in implementing an Allahabad High Court order of restricting photography at the bathing ghats. Recently, objections were raised and PILs filed, as photographers, especially from foreign media, flouted the rules. Clause 18 of the Sanyukt Mela Prant Adhiniyam, 1940, which restricts photography, was also cited repeatedly.
A French journalist was even detained for flying very low on his helicopter in an attempt to take close shots of the ghat on Mauni Amavasya.