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Thirty Million To Wash Their Sins On Jan 24
on 2001/1/28 8:49:02 ( 968 reads )


KUMBHNAGAR, INDIA, January 23: One man is given the responsibility of ensuring that the millions attending the Kumbh Mela have a satisfactory bath. Rising 30 feet above the Sangam confluence, stands a three-story control tower. Special Superintendent of Police, Alok Sharma, is constantly monitoring for danger signs that could bring a crushing stampede. Starting this evening an estimated 30 million pilgrims will converge toward three bathing ghats. At any point in time there will be 60,000 persons at each ghat with 10 million people moving in and out so that the concentration of people does not get too much to handle. Sharma uses one rule of thumb, "At every point, one must be able to see a bit of ground from the watchtower. Not just a sea of heads. The moment the ground disappears, it means danger." There are complications of a winter Kumbh. In the summer pilgrims leave the ghat wearing wet clothes, but in the winter they stay back, dry their clothes and then proceed. The water is uncomfortably choppy and extremely deep in some places. Bathers spend an average of 15 to 16 minutes to finish. Some pilgrims try and return the way they entered, instead of taking the marked exit routes.

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