Nashik: In a bid to maintain the sanctity of the gathering of saints at Nashik Kumbh Mela this year, the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad has decided to ban the priests with criminal charges against them, from participating in the holy event.
Talking to the reporters, Narendra Giri, the President of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad confirmed that a 'Mahamandaleshwar' (high priest) named Sachchidananda Giri had been restrained from visiting the mela as his name was mired in controversy regarding liquor trade and other criminal activities.
Sachchidananda, earlier known as Sachin Dutta was said to be owner of a beer bar in the NCR region and was allegedly named in an FIR lodged in Punjab.
The Parishad's president said that Sachchidanand Giri, who is Mahamandaleshwar of the Agni Akhara, will not be allowed to visit the mela until he is given a clean chit by the Parishad which is investigating the allegations against him, the PTI reported.
Around 80 lakh to one crore people are expected to be in Nashik during the three auspicious days of 'Shahi Snan' and around 25-30 lakh in Trimbakeshwar.
The dates for shahi snan (royal bath), when seers of various 'akharas' take dip in river in large numbers through procession, in Trimbakeshwar are August 29, September 13 and 25. Nearly three lakh seers are expected to be in Nashik and Trimbakeshwar for the religious jamboree.
Nashik-Trimbakeshwar host Kumbh Mela when the Sun and Jupiter come together in Leo ('Simha') zodiac sign in the month of Magh as per the Hindu calender.
Security has been strengthened for the event in both the towns while the district administration has laid new roads for the movement of pilgrims going towards the river and those returning after the holy dip.
Additional 'ghats' have been built to avoid crowding at Ramkund in Nashik.
Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain.
According to the Hindu mythology, the drops of nectar fell from the 'kumbha' (pitcher) carried by gods (after the sea was churned) at these four places, and bathing in the river in these places during this period is considered to 'cleanse' all the sins.
With PTI Inputs
"Although there can be no bar on anybody with regard to visiting Kumbh Mela as a lay devotee, for propriety's sake Sachchidanand has been advised to avoid doing so," the Parishad's president told reporters as per the PTI.