THE chill in the atmosphere in and around the Sangam here failed to dampen the spirit of over 1.5 crore people who gathered Sunday for the third ‘shahi snaan’ at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
Even before the dawn broke, scores of people hailing from different walks of life had taken the dip with their friends and family. As a bright sunny day progressed, the number of devotees and enthusiasts taking dip went up.
“Over 1.5 crore people have taken dip on the occasion of Basant Panchami. Close to 50 lakh devotees had taken dip before the sunrise,” Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand told PTI. He also said all ‘akharas’ have completed the ‘shahi snaan’ (royal bath).
With Sunday’s figures, the total number of pilgrims taking the holy dip during the Kumbh this year (up to February 10) has touched 16.44 crore, officials said.
The continuous cold breeze sweeping the mela area could not deter the devotees from taking the dip in Sangam. They chanted devotional hymns eulogizing various gods and goddesses. Chants of ‘Har Har Gangey’ and ‘Jai Ganga Maiyya’ filled the air as devotees poured in and around the bathing ghats. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has expressed his gratitude to all akharas and saints on the successful conduct of three shahi snaans and a total of four snaans during the ongoing Kumbh.
He congratulated all the officers of the Team Kumbh for their hard work in the organisation of the Kumbh, a senior UP Government official said. However, UP Cabinet Minister and leader of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) Om Prakash Rajbhar questioned the statistics of the pilgrims turning up at the mega event. “On what basis are they (Government) claiming that around 15 crore people have visited the Kumbh Mela? Can they tell which route has been opted by the devotees and pilgrims, while arriving at the Kumbh and departing from it?” Rajbhar told reporters. The entire Kumbh Mela area wore an illuminated look (before sunrise), and devotees approaching the Sangam area through Kali Marg were mesmerized by the LED lighting.
Some enthusiasts stopped to click selfies, with an illuminated mela area in the background. Most of the devotees could be seen carrying water of river Ganga in bottles after finishing the ritual bath. As the number of visitors started going up, senior police officials were heard issuing instructions to the devotees to take a specific exit routes, and finish the bathing formality, so that other devotees could also take the holy dip.
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