PRAYAGRAJ, INDIA, January 16, 2019 (Swarajyamag): Over 12.5 million devotees took a holy dip yesterday at the Sangam, heralding the 50-day Kumbh Mela taking place in Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. The devotees participated in the shahi snan at the confluence of the sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati on Makar Sankranti reports The New Indian Express. Mela authorities have estimated that total number of pilgrims who took the holy bath at the Sangam touched the 20 million mark between 14 and 15 January, with people approaching bathing ghats even till late in the evening. Taking a holy dip at the Sangam is believed to wipe away all the sins of a person, while also emancipating him or her from the cycle of reincarnation.
The Ardh Kumbh at Prayagraj is held every six years. It is likely to be the largest congregation of humanity on the planet with 150 million people expected to participate in the mela during the 50 days. The first groups of people reaching the Kumbh were huge processions of 13 akharas or religious orders in accordance with time slots given to them. Five more shahi snans will take place on the following occasions: Paush Porrima (21 January), Mauni Amavasya (4 February), Basant Panchami (10 February), Maghi Poornima (19 February) and Mahashivratri (4 March). The year's Kumbh is much grander than previous ones, with an increase in the area of the mela as well as the budget.