Lakhs take holy dip as 'Maha Kumbh' begins

Jan 15 2013, 12:33 IST
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SummaryA sea of humanity converged for the religious event dubbed as the 'greatest show on earth'.

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 Ganga is still not good with biological oxygen demand (BOD) level still much above the permissible limit of 3 mg/l.

But with discharge of more water in the next few days, from dams upstream, it is likely to improve, sources in the Mela administration said.

Two other days of ritual bathing are considered particularly auspicious Ņ Magh Poornima (February 25), and Mahashivratri (March 10) when the congregation formally comes to an end.

The other akharas which took part in the bath were Niranjani and Anand, Joona, Agni and Avahan, Nirvani Ani, Digambar Ani and Nirmohi, Bada Udasin, Naya Udasin and Nirmal in the

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