Prayagraj all set to witness Kumbh

Prayagraj all set to witness Kumbh

A sadhu smokes as he sits inside his tent among the Juna Akhara (a sadhu order) community at the Kumbh Mela festival. (AFP Photo)

Millions of people from across the world would descend on the temple town of Prayagraj, about 200 kilometre from Lucknow, to take a dip in the sacred waters of the 'Sangam' (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical River Sarswati).

They would take the dip on the occasion of the first 'Shahi Snan' (Royal Bath) on Tuesday as 'Kumbh', the largest religious congregation in the world, is all set to begin amid tight security arrangements.

The Uttar Pradesh government, which was trying to make the event a grand one and showcase different aspects of the Hindu religion and culture, has made elaborate arrangements to enable pilgrims as well as other visitors, who are expected to arrive in a large number, to have a comfortable stay at Kumbh, which would end on 'Mahashivratri' on March 4 with the last 'snan' (bath).

Thousands of members of the 'Akharas' (groups of sadhus of a particular sect), other religious leaders have already arrived in the town and have put up in the 'tent city', which has been set up on the banks of the River Ganga near the 'sangam'.

The entire 'Kumbh Mela' area has been divided into 20 sectors, each under the authority of a sector magistrate, officials in Lucknow said.

Around one-lakh toilets have been constructed in the 'mela' area, they added.


Besides, 30 pontoon bridges and 40 temporary police stations were also set up in the area, where around 20,000 security personnel had been deployed, the officials said.

"An estimated 12-crore people are expected to attend the Kumbh... We also expect representatives from over 70 countries... Several VIPs are also likely to visit the festival,'' a senior 'Mela' official in Prayagraj said.

The largest crowds are expected on the three auspicious bathing dates on 'Makar Sankranti' (January 15), 'Mauni Amavasya' (February 4) and 'Basant Panchami' (February 10).

The ascetics and sadhus from different 'akharas' perform 'Shahi Snan' on all these days.

The other important dates are 'Paush Poornima' (January 21), 'Maghi Poornima' (February 19) and 'Mahashivratri' (March 4).

Hundreds of special trains and thousands of buses would ferry the pilgrims and other visitors to Kumbh from different parts of the country, sources said.

The 'Kumbh' would also be witnessing the 'Dharm Sansad' (religious Parliament) to be organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), where the Ram temple issue would be discussed.

The religious congregation would, however, also witness some politics as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP national president Amit Shah and other political leaders are also expected to visit the festival and take the holy dip in the 'Sangam' waters.

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