Over 50L take `Shahi snan` at Maha Kumbh
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 00:28
Haridwar: Over 50 lakh devotees along with sages and ash-smeared Naga sadhus, took a holy dip in the Ganga here on occasion of the first 'shahi snan' of the Kumbh on Mahashivratri today, a day also marked by the grand procession of the 'akharas' or religious orders.

"About 55 lakh people had taken the bath in the Ganges today," chief mela officer Anand Bardhan said.

The city, abuzz with activities as devotees started thronging the ghats since late Thursday night, was in a festive mood as the akharas marched chanting slogans like 'Bum bum bhole', 'Har har mahadev' and bands played loud music.

The procession of the akharas, which witnessed thousands of Naga sadhus displaying their acrobatic and martial skills, added colour to the Kumbh Mela which started on January 14.

The procession, which marks the day when Lord Shiva married Parvati, saw the sadhus passing through the narrow lanes of the otherwise quite and calm city, atop their decorated vans amid reverberating music of the bands to which hundreds of their followers danced.

The procession was led by Gyan Das, president of the Akhara Association consisting of 13 orders. Following him were 'Juna Akhara' Nagas and the sants including some well-known ones like 'Pilot Baba' and 'Soham Baba'.

A small group of foreigners, including men and women of varied age-groups, were also members of the Juna Akhada and they too participated in the royal bath.

The Shai Snan went on till 5.30 p.m., after which other devotees were allowed to take a dip in the river.

A number of ministers and politicians too bathed on the occasion.

Prominent among them were Arunanchal Pradesh Home Minister Tako Dabi, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Assam's former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

A thrilled Dabi later told reporters, "It's just amazing... It appears the Maha Kumbh has transformed the holy city of Haridwar into a small world."

Airing similar sentiments, Assam's former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta told reporters, "Such an event immensely helps revive the traditional values that are fading away with the passage of time."

-Agencies inputs

First Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 00:28

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