Hyderabad: More than 30 lakh pilgrims have taken the holy dip in Godavari river at Rajahmundry alone in the first four days of the Pushkaram festival, Andhra Pradesh government said today.
Over 10 lakh people took the holy bath on the first day of Pushkaram on July 14 -- which, however, was marred by a stampede at a bathing ghat in Rajahmundry in which 27 people lost their lives -- while more than eight lakh people had taken a dip here till this afternoon, it said in a release.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu took the holy dip in West Godavari district today.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for sanitation and to provide drinking water to pilgrims, the government said.
Pushkaram -- the ritual of taking a holy dip in the river in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana -- is akin to the 'Kumbh Mela'. The 12-day Pushkaram is celebrated once in 12 years.
This year's event is being hailed as a 'Maha Pushkaram' because of an astronomical configuration that comes once in 144 years.
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister N Chinnarajappa today said that 5,000 police personnel from other states will be deployed in the coming days, especially in view of tomorrow's Id holiday and the weekend.
"We are expecting heavy inflow of pilgrims tomorrow and on Sunday. We are deploying additional forces," he said.
The AP Fisheries Department has decided to bar entry at "unidentified" ghats where taking a dip could be risky, said Deputy Director of Fisheries V Venkateswara Rao.
"Unidentified ghats are slippery and muddy. We have also decided to increase the number of divers at the Seethanagaram, Katheru and Jonnada ghats," he said.