Prayagraj, Feb 4: Braving chilly weather conditions, over 20 million pilgrims took a holy bath at Sangam-- the confluence of sacred river Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati--on the occasion of the main auspicious bathing day of 'Mauni Amavasya' on Monday.
This year the Mauni Amavasya became more auspicious as it fell on Monday, thus it turned out to be 'Somvati Amavasya.' The holy bath for the Mauni Amavasya, began with the Shahi Snan (royal bath) at 0530 hrs. The authorities are expecting around 30 million to have a dip in the Sangam during the day.
The royal procession of the 13 Akhara began well around 0600 hrs with sadhus, saints and the Mahamandeleshwar with Mahanirvanis taking the lead. Gilded-chariots and palanquins carrying the Mahamandeleshwars of the respective Akhara were the cynosure of all eyes.
The Nagar sadhus and Sanyasi--welding tridents, swords and spears--took holy bath rituals without any hindrance. Before the sunrise, the periphery of Sangam was sparkling with lights of varied hues while scores of people at at Ghats.
Enchanting scene were witnessed when pilgrims foreheads smeared with Holy ashes, Kumkum and Sandalwood paste performed Ganga Pujan after the taking a bath and gave alms to beggars and proceeded to various temples in the Mela area .
According to mythology, taking a bath in and around 20 km radius of Prayagraj on this day, is considered to be auspicious. The bathing for the Mauni Amavasya started at around 0300 hours and will continue till late after midnight on Tuesday.
State Director General of Police (DGP) O P Singh, who is personally monitoring the Kumbh told UNI that the holy festival was commencing peaceful with no untoward incident reported. He said traffic management has been made to control the crowd going towards Sangam even as all the vehicles have been restricted in the city during the day.
Though, it's an Ardh Kumbh, the Bharatiya Janata Party government has changed the name from Ardh Kumbh to Kumbh and Purna Kumbh to Maha Kumbh.
The first to reach the Sangam for the Shahi Snan was Maha Nirvani Akhara and the Atal Akhara followed by Niranjani, Anand, Juna, Awahan, Sri Panch Agni, Nirvani Ani, Digambar Ani, Nirmohi Ani, Naya Udaseen, Bada Udaseen and Nirmal Akhara. The last Akhara has been given the time slot of 1440 hrs.
The last Shahi Snans will be held on Basant Panchami-February 10 besides other important occasions of bathing are Maghi Purnima-February 19 and Maha Shivratri-March 4.
Kumbh happens to be the biggest religious and spiritual event of the world. Both state and Centre government, have made considerable efforts to attract tourists and pilgrims.
Besides pumping in Rs 2, 800 cr for Kumbh Mela and beautification of the district, the state as well as the Union Government made several announcements and opened projects.
First the state government changed that name of the district from Allahabad into Prayagraj to recall its existence in the Vedic period. Opening the Akshayvat Darshan was one of the long pending pending demand of severals.
Now, people can go for Darshan of the original Akshay Vat, situated inside the fort after 450 years. Construction of a civil terminal by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is another big achievement that has increased the number of flights from Prayagraj.
In the district, 10 flyovers, nine railway over bridges and six underpass, besides widening of roads and 32 crossings, has been constructed. The 3,200 hectare area for the event has been divided into 20 sectors with 20 pontoon bridges for better connectivity, and this has been done for the first time.
Under the 'Paint My City project,' different walls on the streets have been given a beautiful look, and for this fine arts students were hired. (UNI)