Stage set for Mahakumbh today

Around 1.1 crore devotees to take a holy dip

Stage set for Mahakumbh today

Mahakumbh, the world's biggest religious congregation, is all set to begin at “Sangam,”  (the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Sarswati rivers) at Allahabad amid unprecedented security arrangements.

An estimated 1.1 crore devotees from across the world expected to take a holy dip in the sacred waters on the occasion of the first shahi snan (royal bath) on Makar Sankranti on Monday.

The areas, on the bank of the sangam, where Kumbh Nagar has been set up on about 6,000 acres, was a sea of humanity already with devotees thronging it from Sunday morning.

Several celebrities and high profile spiritual leaders are also likely to participate in the Mahakumbh, according to the officials. The administration has however requested the VIPs not to visit the Mahakumbha on the auspicious dates.

The 55-day long congregation during which as many as six ‘shahi snans’ (royal baths-bathing at the sangam by the saints and sadhus of 13 akharas) will take place, will witness devotees from home and abroad in large numbers.

While the first royal bath would take place on Monday the other two on Mauni Amavasya (February 10) and Basant Panchami (February 15), the other important dates for the Mahakumbh bathing are Pauash Purnima (January 27), Maghi Purinma (February 25) and Maha Shivratri (March 10).

Tents of various Akaharas and religious bodies have been erected on the 54-square kilometer fair area along the bank of the Ganges. All the 13 akharas have already arrived at the ground, the officials said.

Commissioner of Allahabad Devesh Chaturvedi said that all necessary arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the first shahi snan.

“We are expecting about 11 million (1.1 crore)devotees,” he said. Unprecedented security arrangements have been made at the Mahakumbh keeping in view the threat perception from the terrorists. According to the state home department sources, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the state police on possible terrorist threat the Mahakumbh.

A three-layered security arrangement has been made in the city for Monday's shahi snan, the police officials said. “Any one arriving in the city will have to pass through three security check points,” said the officials.

“As many as 24 check points have been set up in the city while the number of check points on the borders of the district is eight...closed circuit TVs have also been installed at important places to monitor the movement of the crowd and the devotees'', they added.

Teams from the National Disaster Management Authority, bomb disposal squad and anti-sabotage have also been deployed in the Mahakumbh.

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