Braving the winter chill, thousands of devotees on Thursday took a
holy dip in the Ganga here heralding the start of the
three-month-long Maha Kumbh, considered the largest religious
congregation that takes place once in 12 years.
the sun rise at about 0645 hours, devotees, who had started lining
up along the streets of Haridwar leading to various ghats, took the
dip on the occasion of 'c' -- known as Uttarayan in
other parts of the country, the day when the sun starts to move
northwards marking the decline of winter.
women and children outnumbered the sadhus, who are expected to
throng the city only after January 26 as the official entrance of
the 'akharas' will begin then. The first 'shahi snan' or royal bath
is scheduled for February 12 when the akhara chiefs also join the
devotees. Many foreigners who were seen in the queue also took bath.
was in Jaipur where I was told about this mega religious event.I
came down to be a part of it," Victor Schendia from Switzerland, who
lined up near the main ghat 'Hari Ki Pauri', said.
roads leading to nearly 300 ghats have a heavy police presence that
has turned the Haridwar into a fortress. Barricades have been set up
to control the flow of crowds. The traffic in the city has come to a
halt with no vehicles being allowed to ply.
is something that I always wanted to do. I never got a chance but
now I have closed my business till February 12 and have come here
with my family.The water is very cold but I am happy that I
undertook this journey," Vijai Raj Shankar Sharma, a devotee from
Uttar Pradesh, said.
People with folded hands and a prayer on their lips walked along the
roads as the ghats echoed with Vedic hymns, bells and conch shells,
leaving an enchanting spell.
District administration said their aim is to give at least five
minutes to each devotees to take his bath. The Kumbh mela goes back
to the Vedic ages and, according to Hindu mythology, the places
where Kumbh is observed are the ones where four drops of 'amrit'
(nectar) fell from the 'kumbh' (pot) at the four places when Lord
Vishnu's 'vahan' (vehicle) 'Garuda' was escaping from the demons who
also wanted the nectar. Belief is that the river Ganga also acquires
certain properties of the nectar during Kumbh. Instructions about
safety arrangements were also given out on the public announcement
systems, which have have been set up all across Haridwar town.
have kept blankets, boats and even made arrangements for bonfire in
case any of the devotee taking the bath suffers from hypothermia.
Steps are all in place to ensure that any needy person is taken to
the hospital fast," Chief Mela Officer Anand Bardhan said.
Spread over an area of 130 sq km, the Kumbh has been divided into 12
zones and 32 sectors with heavy presence of police personnel.
Thirty-four police stations and 42 makeshift posts have been set up
besides the 36 temporary fire stations.