Lakhs of pilgrims brave chill for auspicious dip

melapurnima-ALLAHABAD:More than 28 lakh pilgrims braved the chilly winds in Allahabad on the occasion of “Paush Purnima” on Monday to take the holy dip at Sangam the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
The day also marked the beginning of the 44-day long annual Magh Mela in the city.

Pilgrims began queuing up for the holy dip from 1 am on Monday morning and elaborate arrangements had been made to facilitate the pilgrim traffic on the sprawling Mela grounds.

Thousands crowded the 12 ghats for taking a holy dip and sand bags had been placed on the steps to prevent devotees from slipping.

The bathing ritual began with the various “akharas” taking the first dip, followed by saints and seers.

The “Kalpvasis” who undertake a month long penance during the Magh Mela and lead a frugal life in the tents, were next in line after which the common pilgrims were allowed to take the holy dip.

The Mela township has been built on 1,550 bighas of land and over 72,000 camps have been erected for the “akharas”, saints and pilgrims.

Temporary pontoon bridges have also been erected to ease the flow of traffic and 12 power sub-stations have been set up in the township.

Barricades have been erected at various river banks and also boards warning of deep waters have been put at places.

The main bathing dates are January 5, 14, 20, 24, February 3 and February 17, when the Magh Mela concludes.

Special security arrangements have been made this year in view of the terror alert and high-turnout. Inspector-general (IG), Allahabad zone, Daljeet Chaudhary, said that cameras had been installed at all strategic points to keep an eye on every movement.

Cameras and drones will monitor activity in the township that is being manned by more than 5,000 policemen, including traffic personnel and para military forces.  – The Asian Age

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