Lakhs of devotees holy dip in Ganga on Maha Shivratri in Haridwar Kumbh

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Haridwar, Mar 11 (PTI) Lakhs of devotees Thursday took a holy dip in the Ganga river on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, marking the beginning of the Haridwar Kumbh.

The ritual of taking the dip had begun before the dawn itself with over 30 lakh devotees taking baths at various stretches of the riverbank, including the Brahmkund at Har Ki Paudi, overcoming the fear of contracting Covid-19, said state government officials managing the Kumbh fair.

Though the Brahmkund was closed for the bathing for common people at 8 am itself, devotees continued to participate in the 'shahi snan' (holy dip) during the entire day and till late in the night at various other stretches of the riverbank amid chants of Har Har Mahadev (hail Lord Shiva), they said.

The riverbank at Brahmkund had been reserved for the bathing of the saints during the day.

The devotees had begun reaching the riverbank since Tuesday night itself to take a dip in the river on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri, a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Shiva and the first day of the ‘shahi snan’ during the Kumbh fair.

Earlier in the morning, seers from seven prominent Hindu akharas (sectoral religious schools) took holy dips in the Brahmkund of gthe river at Har Ki Paudi amid the showering of flower petals on them from a helicopter with Uttarakhand’s new Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat too reaching the venue and throwing flowers at the bathing saints.

It was for the first time that the saints were showered with flowers from a helicopter.

The chief minister, who had come to the riverbank along with his family members, said, “I have come here to greet the saints. The seers appear to be happy that they have been showered with flowers. It has happened for the first time here.” The chief minister also sought the holy Ganga’s blessings for the well-being of the people of his state on the occasion.

The Kumbh fair administration had made comprehensive arrangements for the security and safety of devotees with Inspector General of Police Sanjay Gunjyal, Kumbh Fair Administrative Officer Deepak Rawat and Haridwar District Magistrate C Ravishankar personally overseeing the security arrangements.

For devotees’ security, a large police posse, including dog squads and anti-explosion personnel, was deployed at the fair venue and various stretches of riverbanks, which were also manned by divers and boats in large number.

The devotees, however, failed to observe the anti-Covid guidelines during the Kumbh fair. PTI DPT RAX RAX