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Kumbh Mela attracts droves of pilgrims on Maghi Purnima

Kumbh Mela attracts droves of pilgrims on Maghi Purnima

By Manik Gupta Allahabad, Feb 19 (PTI) Cries of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' rent the air at the Kumbh Mela Tuesday as people offered prayers for the CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama terror attack and lakhs of devotees took a dip in the waters of Sangam here on the occasion of Maghi Purnima.The penultimate bathing day of the over 50-day-long Kumbh Mela, Maghi Purnima marks the end of the month-long penance period of Kalpwasi pilgrims.Uttar Pradesh-resident Ashutosh Ranjan was among the several who prayed for the paramilitary personnel killed in last week's suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir."More than cleansing my sins, me and my family are here to pray for the souls of our brave men and for strength of their friends and family. I hope this holy day of Maghi Purnima blesses us all with good wisdom and peaceful thoughts for one and other," a teary-eyed Ranjan said.There were also chants of 'Har Har Mahadev' and 'Ganga Maiya Ki Jai' across the Sangam the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers.An old ascetic said Kalpwasi pilgrims living on the banks of the Ganga for nearly a month would head home after taking the dip on Tuesday."Kalpwasis are usually regarded the most faithful pilgrims of Prayaga Kumbh Mela. They vow to live an austere and minimalist life on the banks of the Ganga for a month," he said.A nip in the air failed to deter the overwhelming crowd of devotees seen taking the holy dip at the Sangam as early as 4 am, despite vehicle restrictions in the vicinity of the makeshift township of Kumbh Nagri."I have seen that the crowd picks up later in the day. So it makes sense to take the dip early in the morning," said Aditya Langar from Pathankot, who was busy drying up his clothes after taking the dip.Forty nine special trains and 2,500 buses were pressed into service by the administration to ferry devotees from far away places to the Kumbh on Maghi Purnima.Though not a shahi snan, Maghi Purnima like Paush Purnima and Maha Shivratri is called a 'parv snan' and is part of the six important bathing days during the Kumbh.The belief is that a dip in the Ganga on the auspicious day washes away sins.The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday declared the day Maghi Purnima a public holiday.According to the administration, over 1.25 crore people took the holy dip till 6 pm in the evening. As many as 40 bathing ghats were prepared to manage the crowd.Over 1.07 crore pilgrims had taken the dip in the Sangam area on Paush Purnima on January 21.On security front, as per officials, 96 watch towers were placed, along with 440 CCTV cameras, to maintain a round-the-clock vigil in the Mela area.The grand festival, which commenced on Makar Sakranti (January 15), will mark the last bathing day on March 4 on Maha Shivratri. PTI MG IJT