Allahabad: A sea of pilgrims and devotees thronged the Sangam here to take a holy dip on the first day of the annual Hindu festival of Magh Mela that started Thursday amid heavy security, officials said.
Devotees of all ages and genders started lining up at the banks at 4 am to take a dip at the Sangam - the holy confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.
"We believe since 4 am as many as two-lakh devotees had already taken a holy dip at the Sangam and the number of devotees opting for the holy bath would definitely increase later in the day," Pushkar Srivastava, an officer of the mela organising committee, told reporters.
"The mela is going on smoothly. There have not been any complaints from the devotees regarding the preparations made for the festival," he added.
According to officials, strict security arrangements have been made on the first day of the mela that started on Paush Purnima - an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.
"For today, we have deployed five companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), two companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), 1,100 constables, 130 sub-inspectors and other security personnel for organising the mela smoothly," Superintendent of Police NP Singh said.
It is believed that taking a holy dip in the Sangam at this time strengthens life and makes it disease free. The Magh Mela will end Feb 12 on Mahashivratri.
"I took a dip for my mother and prayed for her longevity," said Rahul Sinha, who came from Motihari town in Bihar.
"It is believed today all the gods and goddesses are present at the Sangam and bless those taking a holy dip," Mridul Saran, another devotee from Bihar, said.