to creating a new tradition," said the pontiff's close aide Swami Avimukteswarananda, who is camping at the Mela.
Over 8O lakh pilgrims had taken the holy dip in the Sangam by evening, Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad Devesh Chauturvedi said, adding "streams of people were still pouring in the area and the bathing is likely to continue till late in the night".
No untoward incident was reported from anywhere so far, according to authorities which have made massive security arrangement over the huge township of tents and ornately decorated marquees and "pandals" that has sprung up in 6,000 acres.
Significantly, the sprawling Mela ground has been notified as a temporary district in keeping with the complex administrative machinery involved in conducting the Maha Kumbh.
Over 10,000 security personnel have been deployed. Besides guarding different routes, they kept watch from 56 watch towers and 89 CCTV cameras. Anti-Terrorism Squads, Bomb Disposal Squads and Mine Detecting Units were also at hand to meet any eventuality, Senior Superintendent of Police, Kumbh Mela, R K S Rathore said.
Indian Air Force helicopters were also seen making aerial survey of the Mela area which falls in the vicinity of a vast swathe of defence land.
Nearly 5,000 voluntary organisations are rendering services as multitudes upon multitudes of people descend on the Kumbh township.
The routes for processions going to the river and returning were separated as to ward off possibility of any clash between rival sects of sadhus, given some past instances of violence.
Over 11,000 shops are catering to the mundane needs of those taking part in the congregation. These include shops selling spices and sandalwood from the south, herbs from mountain region and musk and curios from various parts of the country.
'Nai baras', an enclosure of barbers, was also doing brisk business as getting heads tonsured is considered auspicious on the occasion.
A number of these tents are meant for 'kalpavasis' who will begin their month-long penance from 'Paush Poornima' on January 27.
The 'akharas' will have two more 'shahi snans' on Mauni Amavasya (February 10) and Basant Panchmi (February 15). There are other concerns as well as the quality of water in the