Thousands of Hindu devotees observe Mauni Amavasya at Allahabad Maha Kumbh(Update:Kumbh Mela)

Allahabad, Feb.10 (ANI): Thousands of Hindu pilgrims and holy men took a holy dip in the River Ganges on Sunday, which is one of the most auspicious occasions at the religious Kumbh festival.

Devotees and ascetics poured in since the early hours of morning to descend into the Ganges on the occasion of the 'Mouni Amavasya'-believed to be the day when the universe was created.

The bathing started in the northern Allahabad city at dawn and saw batch after batch of holy men and pilgrims making their way to the river banks for a 'Shahi Snan' (Royal Bath).

Devotees observe complete silence which is believed to control senses and helps engage into the service of Lord Vishnu, the supreme Hindu god.

Sunday's holy dip marked the second 'Shahi Snan' of sadhus belonging to various 'Akharas'

According to a rough estimate by officials, the number of people to have taken a dip by the crack of dawn appeared to be "not less than 20 lakhs" and the final turnout may exceed the projected estimate of three crore.

Devotees started arriving at the bathing 'ghats' along the banks of the Ganga since last night itself as the special celestial configuration which makes 'Mauni Amavasya' auspicious has been in place since yesterday afternoon.

Tight security arrangements were in place with more than 15,000 security personnel drawn from central paramilitary forces like ITBP, CRPF, BSF and RAF besides the Uttar Pradesh Police and its Provincial Armed Constabulary and Anti Terrorist Squad keeping a close vigil.

The star attraction of the day remains 'Shahi Snan' of the 'Akharas' - orders of martial ascetics established by Adi Sankara - which proceeded, in turns, towards the holy river's confluence with Yamuna and mythical Saraswati in majestic processions.

There are altogether 13 'Akharas' belonging to various sects and each of them have been allotted specific time, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon the size of their procession.

Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.

Most of the devotees expressed their happiness at having taken part in the bathing ritual.

"We are all very happy. It felt as if the saints and ascetics have descended from heaven and come among us for this great ritual. We are feeling really good. All our tiredness and problems have gone away. The arrangements by the authorities have also been very good," said Savita.

The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says that Lord Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality.

In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell on earth, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Every three years a Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all.

More than 2,000 years old, the festival is a meeting point for the Hindu sadhus, some who live in forests or Himalayan caves, and who belong to dozens of inter-related congregations.

To cope with the flow of people, authorities in Uttar Pradesh have installed 35,000 toilets, laid 550 kilometres (340 miles) of water pipes and 155 kilometres (95 miles) of temporary roads at the riverbank site. (ANI)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »