Millions take dip at 'sangam' on Makar Sankranti 

Millions take dip at 'sangam' on Makar Sankranti 

A devotee prays after taking a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, during "Kumbh Mela", or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 14, 2019. REUTERS

An estimated 15 million devotees took the holy dip at 'Sangam' (the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers) waters on the occasion of 'Makar Sankranti' on Tuesday at Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, about 200 km from here.

According to official sources here, over 11 million devotees had taken bath at 'Sangam' around noon on Tuesday. ''Crowds of devotees continue to flock the Sangam,'' said a senior official here.

The officials said that the ash laden 'Naga' sadhus and ascetics from various 'akharas' (sects) also took the holy dip at 'Sangam' on the first 'shahi snan' (royal bath).

3 am onwards

They said that the bathing started around 3 am with the 'akharas' taking the dip one after another. Every 'akhara' was allotted a specific time to take bath at the 'Sangam', officials said, adding that they were given 40 minutes to complete the ritual and return to their tents.

With the first 'shahi snan', the 48-day-long Kumbh festival began on the banks of the Ganga on Tuesday. The next important bathing date is 'Basant Panchami' on February 10. The last bath would take place on 'Mahashivratri' on March 4.

Union minister and senior BJP leader Smriti Irani also took the holy dip. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were also likely to visit Kumbh and take bath at the 'Sangam'.

Global participation

The Kumbh Mela is being held on an area of around 45 square miles on the sandy banks of the Ganga river. Thousands of tents have been erected to house the ascetics and seers and other devotees, who have arrived from all corners of the world.

Officials said that 1.20 lakh bio-toilets had been constructed in the 'Mela' area, which also had 200 ATMs and 40 milk booths. Parking facilities for five lakh vehicles had also been provided at the Kumbh.