Mahashivratri: 80 lakh devotees take holy dip till late afternoon
Allahabad: 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 Shiva and the last bathing day in the one-and-a-half-month-long Kumbh Mela.
By morning, the bathing ghats brimmed with colour. Late-night showers in parts of the holy city failed to dampen the spirit of the pilgrims.
As the sun came out, a wave of enthusiasm erupted among the devotees, while some offered obeisance to the Sun God.
Till late afternoon, as many as 80 lakh devotees took a dip in the Sangam area, Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand told PTI.
As the visitors were heading towards the ghats, chants of 'Har Har Mahadev' filled the air, albeit the occasional police announcement.
Apart for information, the police told the crowds about the lost-and-found centre, which could also be spotted 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 giant 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 dip," said Dhananjay Singh, who came from Lucknow. "I consider it (the rain) to be a good sign."
Heavy rush on their minds, visitors and devotees began arriving at the makeshift Kumbh Nagris in Prayagraj even before midnight with chants of 'Bum Bhole' on their lips.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahashivratri symbolises the last holy bath of Kalpvasis who spend the month of Magh, the period of austerity, as Kalpvas, living a life of absolutely minimal means.
Ashutosh Varshney, an astrologer who has set up a camp in Sector-6 of the 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," added Gunjan Varshney, who runs the Raam Naam Bank, where devotees deposit booklets after writing the name of Lord Ram.
Police and central para-military personnel were keeping a close watch on the movement of people and vehicles and guiding them towards the bathing ghats.
Kumbh, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, 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.