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Puneet Shrivastava | HENB | Allahabad | Jan 14, 2014:: Refuting all vague allegation relating public trouble for demonetization, braving cold wave conditions and walking several miles on foot, thousands of devotees today took a holy dip in confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical river Saraswati on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. Amidst tight security that is in place in view of the ongoing annual religious congregation of Magh Mela at Prayag (Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh).
Influx of the devotees at the holy Sangam had begun much before the sunrise, notwithstanding the cold winds that have been sweeping across the city for the past few days, bringing the minimum temperature below four degrees Celsius. Religious fervour made them ignore the rigour of walking at least five to six kilometres since vehicular traffic has been completely suspended for the day around the holy confluence by the administration in anticipation of the heavy rush of devotees that takes place here every year on Makar Sankranti.
Hindus believe that taking a holy in the confluence of holy river Ganga-Yamuna-Saraswathi in Makar sankranti can liberate (give Mukti) the man from worldly tangent.
There were long queues at the myriad temples located in the vicinity of the Sangam with a steady stream of devotees visiting to offer worship after taking a holy dip. Stalls selling items made of “til” (sesame) and jaggery were doing brisk business as consumption of these on this day, when “Surya” (the Sun) is said to enter “Makar Rashi” (Capricorn), is believed to bring fortune. According to the control room set up at the Magh Mela, more than one lakh people were estimated to have taken holy dip till noon and the influx was likely to continue till the evening. Nearly 10,000 security personnel, including those from the local police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and central paramilitary forces, were manning the Magh Mela area spread across an area of about 1000 acres, with the help of more than 100 CCTV cameras installed in various corners of the landscape.
The religious congregation, which began on January 12, coinciding with the full moon day of Hindu calendar’s “Paush” month, is characterized by renunciates and householders living side by side for 30 days, observing austerities like sleeping on the ground, having only one meal a day and taking dip in the Ganges twice daily. The administration has set up 17 temporary “ghats” along the banks of the Ganges to facilitate the bathing rituals of the Kalpwasis ? the term used to describe those observing the month-long austerities.
Make-shift dispensaries and a hospital has been set up by the administration to take care of the pilgrims’ health care needs while arrangements have been made for other facilities like foodgrains, cooking gas, blankets and bonfire. Sensing an opportunity to boost tourism, the administration has this year also introduced hot balloons and helicopter rides for those desirous of having a panoramic view of the picturesque Magh Mela area.
Amrish Iyer | HENB | Ganga Sagar | Jan 14, 2017:: A large number of devotees gathered at the Ganga Sagar in West Bengal to take a holy dip into the sea on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. Ridiculing the ‘Modi Hatoa’ Lady in the CM Chair of West Bengal and her ‘anti people demonetization theory’, at least 10 lakh Hindu devotees took a holy deep in the last confluence of ganga into Bay of Bengal on Saturday.
In a popular saying it is mentioned that Sab tirath Bar Bar Gangasagar Ekbar. It says, other pilgrimage may be done several times, but once at Gangasagar is a mandate.
The devotees from all over India and even devotees from Nepal and Bangladesh offered prayers at Kapil Muni Ashram amidst tight security that is in place in view of the Gangasagar Mela, officials said. Pilgrims started taking a holy dip from 2:52 AM onwards and the auspicious time for the dip will be over after 2:15 AM tomorrow. One elderly pilgrim became ill and efforts were on to transfer him to Kolkata by a helicopter.
Devotees from Europe, America and Austria also took a chance to mingle with the millions at Ganga Sagar.
The state and South 24 Parganas district administration have taken a number of measures to avoid any untoward incident and deployed 9,000 policemen and volunteers to provide assistance to the pilgrims, officials said. Altogether 165 CCTVs were also installed at various places to keep a close watch, they said. Over 100 voluntary organisations including Bharat Sevashram Sangha are engaged in various works to help the govt wings and pilgrims of Sagar in many ways.
A drone and 20 vessels including several from the Coast Guard were being used for surveillance. The theme of Gangasagar Mela being ‘Green and Clean’ this year, the administration made arrangements for 10,000 toilets so that people could use it.
Mahanto Gyandas of Hanumangarhi Trust, which runs the Kapil Muni Ashram in Gangasagar, handed over the charge to Sanjay Das here. Mohanto said that Sanjay Das will look after the day-to-day activities at the fair at Gangasagar from next year. He also demanded that this fair should get the status of a national fair.
In a statement Gyandas urged PM Modi to erect a bridge to connect Gangasagar island with the mainland at Kakdwip near Lot 8. This will help the pilgrimage and the residents of Sagar for their easy communication avoiding the hazards of in adequate ferry service and water problem in the creek.
With many veteran Hindu monks and saints, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati is also present in the Gangasagar Mela right now.
__Input from PTI.