Prayagraj : Kumbh Mela 2019 commenced with first Shahi Snan on Tuesday as sadhus belonging to various akharas took a holy dip in the confluence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati in the world’s biggest gatherings of human beings, being held at Prayagraj. Kumbh is one of the most important pilgrimages for Hindus in India and across the world.
The Kumbh Mela is held every six years, while the Maha Kumbh takes place every 12 years. The holy dip for Kumbh Mela 2019 began on Monday midnight with the Shahi Snan on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti.
As a part of the Shahi Snan, sadhus belonging to 13 akhadas take a dip in the holy rivers along the banks of River Ganga where the Kumbh Mela takes place. The order in which the akhadas perform the holy ritual by taking a dip in the river – the Ganges in case of the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela – is predetermined and according to the norms, no one is allowed to enter the holy river before the akhadas finish their Shahi Snans.
Over 12 crore people expected to visit Prayagraj between now and March, when the festival will come to a close, for a holy dip at the Sangam. Due to the huge number of people expected, the Uttar Pradesh administration has restricted the entry of vehicles, other than those required for essential services, near the Kumbh Nagari, sprawling over 32,000 hectare.
Elaborate security arrangements are in place and pontoon bridges have been constructed to lead the visitors to the five-kilometre bathing ghat at Sangam. Prayagraj is all decked up for the upcoming Kumbh Mela that began on January 15. From street art to top-of-the-line tents to over 1.22 lakh toilets, the Uttar Pradesh government has not left any stone unturned in order to make the religious event a big success.