Kumbh begins on peaceful note, lakhs throng Sangam

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Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, turned into a melting pot with lakhs and lakhs of devotees from varied backgrounds and places taking a dip on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti here on Monday. It marked the beginning of the 56-day Kumbh Mela of 2013.

The next shahi snan would be on February 10, on Mauni Amavasya, which is traditionally always the biggest of the snans.

The official estimates said that 82 lakh people had taken bath at Sangam, and also the 20 other ghats, by 4 pm. The number was likely to go up and could cross the one-crore mark, the officials claimed. As is the tradition, the Akharas, in all their royal magnificence, took the first shahi snan beginning as early as 5.15 am. The police and the administration had put in place massive paraphernalia to ensure the day went incident-free.

For the common man, the pull of the divine and the sacred alone seemed to be fuelling their spirits. Coming from nearby villages and neighbouring districts like Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Chitrakoot, and even Banda, Jhansi and Hardoi, they reached Allahabad by train, four-wheelers, tractors and also two-wheelers. They also came from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh to name only a few. Quite a few of them were also from Nepal, besides, of course, those from the West.

Mahesh Pratap Singh Parmar came from Panna, Madhya Pradesh, along with six of his family members. He is in the diamond business there. "We came in a four-wheeler and parked our vehicle somewhere in Naini. From there, we have just walked and walked. It must have been around 10 km. In Panna, I am not used to even carry my office bag," he said smiling, happy that he has met "Ganga Maiyya" (Mother Ganga). "What I liked this time was that the police were very well behaved," said the veteran of two Kumbh and two ardh-Kumbh melas.

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