PRAYAG, INDIA, February 16, 2013 (Times of India): Amid intermittent rain on Friday, about seven million devotees took the holy dip in Sangam on the occasion of Basant Panchami, which also marked the third Shahi Snan of Kumbh. This was the figure available till 2 pm but it was unlikely that the number of devotees would touch 19.3 million which the Mela officials were expecting. The final figures were expected in late evening after the completion of the snan. However, officials claimed that more than 13.5 million pilgrims took the dip in the past 24 hours.
Since rain had been predicted, the Mela administration had barricaded all 22 ghats for the safety of pilgrims. Yet, many pilgrims slipped on the ghats due to rain but were helped by jawans (officers) of Jal Police. The Mela administration had put crowd management measures in place in all 14 sectors, Sangam noz, Mela area and streets leading to Sangam.
IG Allahabad zone Alok Sharma said no untoward incident was reported and the snan passed of peacefully. As many as 30 magistrates were deployed on duty to coordinate and supervise crowd control along with the Mela authorities.
Among the first to take holy dip were mahamandleshwars, mahants, sadhus and Naga sadhus from Maha Nirvani and Atal Akharas. They were followed by Niranjani with Anand, Juna along with Awahan and Panch Agni, Nirmohi, Digambar, Nirwani, Naya Panchayati, Bada Panchayati and Nirmal Panchayati Akharas.
The usual pomp and show in the akhara processions was, however, missing on Friday as a mark of respect for those killed in the stampede at Allahabad Junction.