Haridwar gears up to host lakhs of devotees for `shahi snan`

Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 18:28

Haridwar: Thousands of devotees have
already trooped into the city to take part in the first `shahi
snan`, which will witness over a lakh `sadhus`, including the
ash smeared `nagas`, taking bath in the Ganges here on the
occasion of Mahashivratri on Friday as part of the Maha Kumbh.

The administration, in a bid to thwart any untoward
incident during the holy bath, when lakhs of devotees are
expected to take a dip in the Ganga, on a day when Lord Shiva
married Goddess Parvati, has turned the city into a fortress.

According to sources, about 15,000 security personnel,
including central paramilitary forces, will be seen in action
on Friday, from managing the crowd to keeping an eye out for
any mischief mongers.

Check posts have already been set up in various parts
of the city and vehicles entering the city are being frisked.

Administration officials said the general public is
expected to take bath from 12:00 AM tonight while the
scheduled time for the 13 akharas (sects of sadhus) to come
with all the pomp and show is at 11:00 AM.

They said the main bathing ghat here -? Hari Ki Pauri
-- will host the sadhus and nagas, who are expected to come
riding on their horses and elephants smeared in ash and
carrying traditional arms, depicting their original identity
as the mendicant warrior class.

The first akhara to take the `shahi snan` would be the
Juna Akhara, which will be followed by others, which all have
been allotted different time slots.

Incidentally only seven akharas will participate in
the royal bath here as rest are in Vrindavan.

Officials said `Hari Ki Pauri` will be shut down for
the general public from 11:00am to 6:00 pm, the time for the
Nagas, who usually stay naked, and Sadhus to take their dip.

The ghat will be cleared of people one hour prior to
the bath so that the officials can clean it before the main
akhara walks in.

The next two `shahi snans` will take place on March 15
and April 14, on the occasions of Somawati Aamavasya and
Baisakhi respectively.

With millions expected to take bath simultaneously,
there are more than 300 bathing ghats -- 117 ghats in Haridwar
and around 200 in Rishikesh.

The state government has pressed in the entire
administration for the smooth functioning of the Kumbh and has
set up numerous camps to facilitate lodging of devotees.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 18:28

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