More than 32 lakh devotees gathered in Haridwar — as per estimates put forth by officials — to take part in the first ‘shahi snan’ of the Maha Kumbh on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri on Thursday.
The pilgrims were allowed to take a dip in the Ganga from early morning hours till 8 am. Thereafter, seers from seven prominent akhadas, including Juna, Niranjani and Mahanirvani, came with their processions one-by-one to take a dip at Har-Ki- Pauri’s Brahmakund from 10 am till evening. “As per our estimation, 32 lakh devotees took a dip in the Ganga from 12 am till 5 pm on Thursday,” said Deepak Rawat, mela officer, Kumbh Mela.
Newly-elected chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat also reached Haridwar along with his wife to seek blessings from the seers and participated in the ‘shahi snan’ ritual of the Niranjani akhada. In his first decision taken soon after taking over on Wednesday, the CM had said that devotees will be showered with flowers from choppers. On Thursday, as choppers showered rose petals on the congregation, the CM who was present with the akhada seers said that this is the first time that such an initiative was taken during the Kumbh and it was meant to honour the seers and all those who had come to take a holy dip.
He added that the state government has made all the arrangements for the convenience of the public and the seers. “All are welcome to the Kumbh and no one will be stopped or harassed but I urge people to follow Covid-19 norms. Our government is committed to organising a divine, grand and safe Kumbh. I am happy that all the seers are happy and satisfied with the arrangements. We will ensure that the arrangements get better with each passing day,” Rawat said.
Mahant Narendra Giri, president of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, said, “Tirath Singh Rawat became the CM a day before Maha Shivaratri. He was blessed by lord Shiva. We are happy that he has decided to allow the devotees to the Kumbh without restrictions. The akhada parishad had been demanding this from the very beginning.”
The mela administration in Haridwar had developed a special corridor for the seers who came in procession from their respective camps to the main ghat. Huge chariots followed by devotees, seers and heads of akhadas reached Har-Ki-Pauri while chanting hymns and vedic mantras during the day. The seers also carried their respective akhada’s deities in ‘palkis’ (palanquins) for the ‘shahi snan’.
Meanwhile, a man was electrocuted during the shahi snan procession on Thursday. Identified as Nitin Das, 34, a resident of Thrissur, Kerala, he was electrocuted when he lifted a flag of Ahavan akhada which touched a high-tension live wire. He was rushed to the district hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.