3 crore pilgrims expected today

Omar Rashid
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Mauni Amavasya is most significant bathing day of mega event

PILGRIM RUSH:A huge multitude of pilgrims waiting for daybreak to take a dip at the Sangam during the ongoing Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad on Saturday.— Photo: AP
PILGRIM RUSH:A huge multitude of pilgrims waiting for daybreak to take a dip at the Sangam during the ongoing Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad on Saturday.— Photo: AP

Over three crore pilgrims are expected to take a dip at the Maha Kumbh Mela here this Sunday on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, the most significant bathing day of the mega event. The day marks the second Shahi snan (royal bath) of this mela; the first was the Makar Sankranti snan on January 14.

The Mauni Amavasya is considered the most auspicious of all the bathing days and is by far the biggest. Mauni is derived from the word Muni, literally meaning an ascetic who practises silence.

Twenty-two ghats spread across 14 sectors, including 12 on the north of the Ganga and with a total length of 18,000 feet, are in place for the snan.

The Shaivaite akharas, beginning with the Maha Nirvani and Atal Akharas, will be the first to move towards the Sangam ghat in the early hours of Sunday. They will be followed by the Niranjani, Anand, Juna, Awahan and Agni akharas.

The Vairagi akharas come next with the Nirmohi, Digambar Ani and Nirvani Ani akharas queueing up, and then the two Udasin Akharas, the Naya Udasin Panchayati and the Bada Udasin Panchayati akharas.

The Nirmala akhara will bring to a close the Shahi snan, which is scheduled to start at 6.15 a.m. and expected to last till 5 p.m. The akharas have been allotted 30 minutes to one hour for the snan.

Amid elaborate security arrangements, which includes CCTVs, video screens and helicopters, the city received a fresh rush of pilgrims on Saturday. Senior Superintendent of Police Kumbh Mela R.K.S Rathore said around one crore pilgrims had already entered the mela and the number was expected to rise further.

The administration is fully prepared to handle the crowds and security personnel have been instructed to maintain cordial behaviour with the pilgrims, Mr. Rathore said. A three-tier parking system extending up to Allahabad University, some 6 km away from the mela premises, is also in place.

Hygiene concerns

Referring to complaints and concerns over cleanliness of the Ganga, Kumbh Mela District Magistrate Mani Prasad Mishra admitted that some “limitations” had crept in over the past few days but they would be dealt with in time for the snan.

Water barricading up to three feet had been ensured to prevent drowning incidents, Mr. Mishra said.

Taking note of concerns over indecent photography, mainly by foreign journalists at the ghats, Mr. Mishra said action had been initiated against those found guilty.

A 2001 Allahabad High Court ruling has banned photography within 100 metres of the ghats, also of nude sadhus and bathing women.

Most roads leading to the mela as well as the city were barricaded on Friday night. Vehicle mobility was restricted on Saturday and is expected to come to a standstill on the festival.

Keeping in view the rush, the district administration has decided to shut all intermediate level schools till February 16. The final Shahi snan of this mela will be on Basant Panchami on February 15.

  • 22 ghats readied for the Shahi snan

  • Elaborate security arrangements in place

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