At the Gangasagar Mela, devotees jostle with sadhus for space, brave freezing waters for holy dip

Ritayan Mukherjee
Every year, on the day of Makar Sankranti, when the sun makes a transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the Sagar Island to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. The journey of Gangasgar begins from temporary camp set up at Babughat , Calcutta for pilgrims and Sadhus.

Every year, on the day of Makar Sankranti, when the sun makes a transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the Sagar Island to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. In this photo: The journey to Gangasagar begins at a temporary camp set up at Babughat, Kolkata for pilgrims and sadhus.

Hindus have always associated the river Ganga with the remission of sins and attainment of nirvana. Sagar Island or Gangasagar lies at the mouth of the river, from where it drains into the Bay of Bengal. During their short stay at the camp Sadhus perform many acts to draw the devotees.

Sagar Island or Gangasagar lies at the mouth of the river Ganga, from where it drains into the Bay of Bengal. In this photo: During their short stay at the camp, devotees observe several acts that the sadhus perform.

At the fair ground, devotees spend time in temporary shelter against rain and mist. The most auspicious time for the holy dip is generally between 04:30 am and 06.00 am. Despite the cold winter morning and freezing water dips, the magnitude of the congregation is second only to the Kumbh Mela.

At the fair ground, devotees spend time in temporary shelters set-up against rain and mist. The most auspicious time for the holy dip is generally between 4.30 and 6 am. Despite the cold winter morning and freezing water they take dips in, the magnitude of the congregation is second only to that of Kumbh Mela.

4.A young priest with piercing eyes and a simple faith, He took holy dip and the mark of god.

A young priest who took a dip at the fair.

Here comes the sun.

Devotees pay their respects to the rising sun.

After the holy dip devotees hugs each other

After the holy dip, devotees hug each other.

Like father, like sun.

A father and son enjoy their time at the Fair.

Meanwhile, a group of musician is passing by.