Kumbha Mela: At Prayag Hindus put aside their differences and bathe together – Omar Rashid

Pilgrims en route to the Kumbha Mela at Prayag

Pilgrims bathing at the Triveni Sangam

Sadhu bathing at Sangam

Bhagwa Dhwaja: Flag of HindustanPRAYAG: Around 45 lakh devotees took a holy dip at the Triveni Sangam here on Sunday on the festival of Paush Purnima. This was the second ritual bathing during the Maha Kumbh Mela 2013; the first was the Makar Sankranti Shahi Snan (royal bath) on January 14.

No untoward incidents were reported on the day, according to Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi.

The snan began in the early hours of Sunday even as thousands of devotees continued to pour into the Sangam area. Though the devotees had to cover most of the distance on foot, some restrictions on vehicular movement were relaxed in the city.

The day also marked the commencement of Kalpwas, the month-long period of austerity undertaken by devotees known as Kalpwasis, who live a minimalistic life on the banks of the Sangam. The Kalpwas is undertaken by devotees each year during the month of Magh. They believe that living in flimsy tents, listening to discourses, giving alms, mostly eating only once a day and performing ritual baths daily free them of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and karma.

Mahatma going to bathe at the SangamThe administration expects around 20 lakh Kalpwasis to live on the banks of the Sangam this year. Around 100 million devotees are estimated to visit the 55-day mela.

The next bathing day, the Mauni Amavasya Shahi Snan on February 10, is expected to attract around 4 crore pilgrims. 

Meanwhile, eight persons who were critically injured in Friday’s fire at the Kumbh ground were admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on Saturday. 

They had earlier been shifted to the Swarup Rani Nehru Hospital here for specialised treatment. A leakage in an LPG cylinder reportedly caused the fire, which injured at least 17 persons and gutted several tents on Friday. The administration has circulated a list of precautions against fire for the safety of the pilgrims, said Kumbh Mela District Magistrate Mani Prasad Mishra. 

A minor fire broke out at a camp in sector 5 of the mela on Sunday evening. However, sector magistrate Bhairav Deen Gupta said the fire was quickly doused before any damage could be done. Nobody suffered any injuries. A LPG cylinder leakage is believed to have triggered the fire, Mr. Gupta said. – The Hindu, 27 January 2013. See all images of Kumbha Mela courtesy of The Hindu.

Kumbha Mela: India Flag

Sadhu with horn at Kumbha Mela 2013Full moon brings 45 lakh for Sangam dip – Kapil Dixit

PRAYAG: More than 45 lakh devotees and ‘kalpwasis’ – pilgrims who live in the Sangam area for one month in January every year — took the holy dip at Sangam on the occasion of Paush Poornima or full moon of January, a day considered particularly auspicious, and which effectively begins the rush of people towards the Mahakumbh snan that goes on for one whole month. 

The day marks the beginning of month-long austerity period for kalpwasis, who will stay on the banks of Sangam. During this period, Kalpwasis live in tents, listen to discourses, give alms, eat once a day and perform ritual baths daily to free themselves from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. 

Devotees began congregating on the banks since three am. Hundred of them threw themselves into waist-deep water as Jal police personnel tried their best to control the crowds. Since their numbers kept growing, the police did not let them spend much time bathing at all the 18 ghats. But this did not dampen pilgrim fervor, who arrived from across the country and abroad, for the reinvigorating bath amid chants of “Jai Ma Gange”. 

Cops kept appealing to devotees with the help of public address systems to leave immediately after the dip. IG Alok Sharma, while pointing out that the event was peaceful, admitted that it took some effort to manage the crowds at pontoon bridge number two. 

Naga sadhu with foreign tourists at Kumbha Mela 2013Divisional commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi told TOI that the snan went on till three pm and around 42 lakh people went into the river. 

The mela police had deployed around 13,000 policemen, including 22 inspectors, 400 sub-inspectors, 4,500 constables, 4,000 home guards, 10 companies of PAC, 10 companies of central para-military forces and 200 cops from Uttarakhand police. 

IG Sharma said that apart from Sangam, the highest number of pilgrims visited the Ganga-Prasad ghat, South Jhunsi, in sector 12. The flow of crowd, he said, was continuous for 10 hours (between three am and one pm). Additional crowd was seen on pontoon bridge number two, where the police had to divert the route to manage pedestrians. Besides, the police also worked on emergency schemes in view of increasing rush of pilgrims. 

Asked what the holy dip meant to him and his family, Jaipur-based RK Sharma said, “One could only realise the energy and devotion here and there seems an invisible influence attracting millions of people.” Such devotion undoubtedly helps people to get over their worries, he added. Praveen from Kanpur said, “It’s a combination of faith in spirituality which keeps humanity alive.” – The Times of India, 27 January 2013

Sannyasi puja at the Triveni Sangam

Namaskar: Sadhus bathing at the Sangam

Dasanami sannyasi and Naga sadhus

Aarti at the Triveni Sangam

Aarti at the Triveni Sangam

Pilgrim offering a lamp to Ganga Devi