Millions of devotees, Naga sadhus have started gathering on the banks of River Ganga in Prayagraj as Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 began today on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Hindu seers and saints were seen heading towards the river bank ‘Sangam Ghat’ for a holy dip in the river ‘Ganga’ on the occasion of the first religious dip ‘Shahi Snan’ in the early morning hours today. Among those who took a holy dip in the River Ganga was Union Minister Smriti Irani. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah, and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are also expected to take a holy dip in the Ganga during the 45-days of celebrations.
The occasion of Makar Sankranti marks the first day of sun’s transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
According to reports, approximately 1.20 lakh people offered prayers to Akshay Vat, a sacred fig tree mentioned in the Hindu mythology in Prayagraj.
The local policemen are keeping a strong vigil and monitoring the regions adjoining the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries. Vehicular movement on Prayagraj roads has also been restricted due to a large footfall of tourists. Moreover, the administration has taken the help of Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) and citizens in maintaining law and order.
To accommodate millions of visitors at Kumbh, a tent city has been set up along the vast river banks of Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. The tent city is spread over 100 hectares and has modern amenities like food courts, meditation halls, restaurants and entertainment provisions. Over 4,000 tents along with other accommodation options like luxury cottages have been set up for Ardh Kumbh 2019.
There will be eight Shahi Snan days spread over the 45-day Ardh Kumbh in Prayagraj. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that over 15 crore people are expected to visit the Kumbh over these 45 days.