"Till evening, as many as 1.10 crore devotees have taken a dip in the Sangam area. With Mahashivratri's snaan, so far more than 24.05 crore devotees have taken a dip during this year's Kumbh," Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand said.
Even before midnight, devotees from different walks of life and parts of the country began to pour into Sangam city to take holy dip on Mahashivratri, the great night of Lord Shiva and the last bathing day in the one-and-a-half-month-long Kumbh Mela. Till Monday evening, more than 1 crore devotees had taken a holy dip in the Sangam area, officials said. The bathing ghats brimmed with colour in the morning. Late-night showers in parts of the holy city failed to dampen the spirit of the pilgrims. As the sun came out, devotees enthusiastically greeted the sun, while some offered obeisance to the Sun God with traditional ‘Yoga asanas’.
“Till evening, as many as 1.10 crore devotees have taken a dip in the Sangam area. With Mahashivratri’s snaan, so far more than 24.05 crore devotees have taken a dip during this year’s Kumbh,” Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand told PTI. Till March 3, the number of devotees who had taken the dip during the Kumbh stood at 22.95 crore, an UP government official said.
As the visitors were heading towards the ghats, chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ rang through the air, albeit the occasional police announcement. Apart from other information, the police told the crowds about the lost-and-found centre, which could also be seen from a distance by the installed, floating gas-balloon.
A delegation from West Bengal kept all its members together by telling them to follow the large saffron-coloured flags. A group of visitors from Ajmer used rope barriers to keep its members together. “Despite showers, my friends and I walked towards the bathing ghats and took a dip,” said Dhananjay Singh, who came from Lucknow, adding, “I consider it (the rain) to be a propitious sign.”
Content, smiling faces at the Kumbh nagris tell us we managed the last day crowds well, an official said. With heavy rush on their minds, devotees began arriving at the makeshift kumbh nagris in Prayagraj even before midnight with chants of ‘Bum Bhole’ on their lips. UP Sugarcane Development and Sugar Mills Minister Suresh Rana took a dip in the ‘sangam’, and later visited the media centre.
Speaking to reporters, Rana said, “When I was taking a boat ride after the dip, a sudden shower of petals fell on boatman. His spontaneous reaction was ‘waah Yogi ji’ (UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath). I was pleasantly overwhelmed by this.” A UP government spokesperson said UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will participate in the ‘Kumbh Samaroh Samapan Kaaryakram’ (formal closing function of the mega event) tomorrow. He will felicitate the officials who have done exemplary work during the festival. UP Governor Ram Naik and Urban Development Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna are also likely to attend the programme.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahashivratri symbolises the last holy bath of Kalpvasis, who spend the month of Magh — the period of austerity — in minimal means. Ashutosh Varshney, an astrologer who has set up a camp in Sector-6 of Kumbh Nagri, said, “Mahashivratri marks the culmination of the Kumbh and the prominent bathing days. This year, it fell on a Monday, the day dedicated to Lord Shiva, after a long time.” “Also on this day, Lord Shiva got married,” said Gunjan Varshney, who runs the Raam Naam Bank, where devotees deposit booklets after writing the name of Lord Ram.
Kumbh is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. It is held once in every 12 years. This time it began on January 15 on Makar Sankranti. There are six bathing dates. Of these, shahi snaans are held on Makar Sankranti, Mauni Amawasya and Basant Panchami. Parv snaans are held on Paush Poornima and Maghi Poornima.
Police and central para-military personnel have been in charge of the movement of people and vehicles and guiding them towards the bathing ghats.
As the Kumbh approached its finale, the mega event etched its name into record books creating a hat-trick of world records, which were certified by the Guinness World Records, an UP government spokesperson said.
One of the records was most contributions made to a handprint painting in eight hours. The Guinness World Records certificate read, “The most contributions to a handprint painting in eight hours was achieved by Prayagraj Mela Authority, Government of Uttar Pradesh (India) in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh India on March 1, 2019.” Another world record created was the largest parade of buses.
“The largest parade of buses was achieved by Prayagraj Mela Authority, Government of Uttar Pradesh (India) in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India on February 28, 2019,” the certificate given by Guinness World Records read. A UP government official said, “The attempt in Prayagraj involving 500 buses covered more than 3.2 kilometres. It was held at NH-19 between Sahson toll plaza and Nawabganj toll plaza. This demonstrates the traffic plan, which worked very well during the mela with 20,000 police personnel being deployed.” On March 2, the most people sweeping the floor (multiple venues) was achieved by Prayagraj Mela Authority, government of Uttar Pradesh, India on 2 March 2019.