Kumbh: A walk to remember ahead of ‘Mauni Amavasya’

ALLAHABAD, Feb 3: “Aage bhadte rahiye Sangam Ghat karib hi hai (Keep moving, the Sangam Ghat is close),” a voice constantly blared on Sunday from speakers at Allahabad railway station, where lakhs of devotees have reached a day ahead of ‘Mauni Amavasya’, most auspicious day for taking bath in the holy waters of the Sangam during the ongoing Kumbh Mela.
‘Mauni Amavsya’ on Monday marks the second ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath) of the 50-day Kumbh Mela — the largest congregation in the world.
It is traditionally the biggest of all the sacred bathing days in the Mela.
Hence the sight of the railway station here to the makeshift township of Kumbh Nagari can easily be confused with any of those marathons taking place in a metropolis, all thanks to the huge in flow of people — which only kept increasing by the hour — walking endlessly.
“Kahan jaye jagah dikh rahi hai kya (Where do you expect me to go, there’s hardly any place to move),” said a visibly tensed pilgrim to another devotee outside the railway station.
The grand religious event, which started on January 15 on the occasion of Makar Sakranti, is expecting participation of over three crore pilgrims for ‘Mauni Amavasya’.
It is believed that on this day, first sage Rishabh Dev broke his long vow of silence and bathed in the holy waters. Many devotees take up a vow of silence on this day.
Basically, ‘Mauni Amavasya’ is the new moon day of the Magha month, which falls in late January or early February. It assumes greater significance if it falls on a Monday during the Kumbh, which happens to be the case this time.
So it is not for no reason that all roads leading to Kumbh Nagri, the 32,000-hectares township on the banks of the river, were teeming with people making their way to the Sangam — the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati — for a ritual dip.
“Tried everything, but didn’t find a single vehicle to take us to Kumbh Nagri. Obviously with no option left, all we can do is walk,” said 40-year-old Rakesh Magotra, as he warned his children to not leave his hands in the crowd.
Though there is a restricted vehicle entry in the vicinity of Kumbh Nagri, according to the administration, over 500 shuttle buses have been deployed on various routes for easier access to the pilgrims in the upcoming days.
For security, as per officials, over 40 police stations and as many fire stations have been set up in the Kumbh Nagari to deal with any emergency.
The Kumbh witnesses altogether three ‘Shahi Snans’, the first of which took place on Makar Sankranti (January 15) and the third and the last is scheduled on Basant Panchmi (February 10).
About 12 crore people are expected to visit Kumbh till March 4, when the festival will come to a close. (PTI)


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