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Scores of seers descend to take royal bath in Ujjain

Braving scorching heat, a multitude of sadhus along with their disciples chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ took the ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) at Ramghat in the Kshipra  river here in the afternoon on Friday – the opening day of the month-long Simhastha-Kumbh mela.

People drawn from different parts of the country and abroad are taking part in the Kumbh mela, one of the largest congregations of Hindus, which for the first time is witnessing the participation of the transgenders, who have put up an akhara (temporary monastery) and have announced to take a holy dip at the Gandharav Ghat of Kshipra on May 9.

“I am overwhelmed to be part of this awesome human gathering. I came here since yesterday,” George Sauuahq, a Frenchman said. He added he had come to India with a group of 12 people from Paris.

“We made a point to stand witness to this mega event after learning about it,” he said as he scrambled to shoot photos of sadhus in different hues and attires at the Ramghat.

Wheelchair-bound Tervani Devi (76) and her husband Durga Prasad (82) came to the Shipra, which has been revived by pumping in the Narmada water, for the occasion, to take a holy dip, all the way from Hyderabad. Tervani said she was delighted after participating in the royal bath.

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh also took a bath at Gaughat on the opening day of the Simhastha.

Around 8.15 am, a stampede-like situation was witnessed in the Chhoti Pool area at the entrance of Ramghat, when a large number of seers in processions descended for the royal bath. However, the situation was brought under control by the authorities swiftly.

Bada Udasin Akhara Pontiff Raghu Muni Maharaj, along with others, squatted at the Ramghat for a while and protested against traffic in the mela area. He said vehicular traffic was obstructing seers’ way to the ghat. However, he lifted his protest after government officials intervention.

Earlier, the mela kicked off with Naga sadhu of Juna Akhara venturing into the river around 5 am. Their head, Avdheshnandji Maharaj, who came in a huge procession took the ‘shahi snan’ amid tight security.
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