Allahabad/Kolkata, Jan 14: Ignoring biting cold and long treks, thousands of devotees on Saturday took a holy dip in the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad Sangam on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti.
A large number of devotees also gathered at the Ganga Sagar in West Bengal to take a holy dip into the sea on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti.
The security was very tight in view of the ongoing Magh Mela. People started coming in even before the dawn braving the cold winds and a minimum temperature of four degrees Celsius.
Religious fervour made them ignore the hardship of walking at least five to six km to reach the site for the dip. Vehicular traffic was suspended for the day around the holy confluence.
Long queues were witnessed at the myriad temples located in the surrounding of the Sangam with the steady stream of devotees visiting to offer prayers after the holy dip. Stalls selling items made of “til” (sesame) and jaggery were doing brisk business as consumption of these on this day, when “Surya” (the Sun) is said to enter “Makar Rashi” (Capricorn), is believed to bring fortune.
According to the control room set up at the Magh Mela, more than one lakh people were estimated to have taken holy dip till noon, and the influx was likely to continue till the evening. Nearly 10,000 security personnel, including those from the local police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and central paramilitary forces, were manning the Magh Mela area spread across an area of about 1000 acres, with the help of more than 100 CCTV cameras installed in various corners of the landscape.
The religious congregation, which began on January 12, coinciding with the full moon day of Hindu calendar’s “Paush” month, is characterized by renunciates and householders living side by side for 30 days, observing austerities like sleeping on the ground, having only one meal a day and taking dip in the Ganges twice daily. The administration set up 17 temporary “ghats” along the banks of the Ganges to facilitate the bathing rituals of the Kalpwasis the term used to describe those observing the month-long austerities.
Make-shift dispensaries and a hospital were set up by the administration to take care of the pilgrims’ health care needs while arrangements have been made for other facilities like food grains, cooking gas, blankets and bonfire. Sensing an opportunity to boost tourism, the administration has this year also introduced hot balloons and helicopter rides for those desirous of having a panoramic view of the picturesque Magh Mela area.