Lakhs of Hindu devotees took a dip in the Sangam on Monday on the occasion of Paush Poornima in what was the second ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) of the ongoing Kumbh.
Saints and devotees had started making their way to the bathing ghat since before dawn to be able to take the holy dip.
Among the devotees were women and children, who walked several kilometres to the ‘sprawling Kumbhnagar’.
The first shahi snan took place on 15 January on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in which around 16 lakh devotees had taken the holy dip.
Security in Prayagraj area was beefed up on Sunday a day before the second shahi snan. Heavy security was seen at the Prayagraj railway station and every major bus station, the gateways for the devotees to the Kumbh.
Personnel from the UP police department and central para-military forces were deployed in large numbers to guard the 3,200 hectares of land in the Sangam city, where the devotees gather for to take a dip in Sangam – the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
Monday also marked the start of ‘daan’ on the occasion of Paush Poornima.
From this very day the fabled ‘Kalp Vaas’ when devotees give up world pleasures and connections, for a brief period and live the life of hermits, also began.
Several families have pitched tents here and have begun the ‘Kalp Vaas’ based on their beliefs of renunciation of the world pleasures, leading a simple life for the period.
During this one month long period, they would be segregated from their families and engage in singing bhajans, chanting hymns, cooking for themselves.
Among other things, during the ‘Kalp Vaas’, people following it are expected to sleep on the floor, eat one meal a day and thrice take a dip in the holy Ganga.
After the Paush Poornima bath, there will be four more major bathing dates during the Kumbh. These are Mauni Amavasya (February 4), Basant Panchami (February 10), Maghi Purnima (February 19) and Mahashivratri (March 4).
(With inputs from agencies.)