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Grand Kumbh mela takes off with Shahi Snan
An estimated over one crore pilgrims and devotees from all around the globe took their holy dip in the Ganga river during the first ritual bath on Makar Sankranti, January 14, to mark the beginning of the 55-day Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. The start of the Kumbh Mela is deemed to be the most auspicious coinciding with Makar Sankranti and a perfect alignment of stars and planets this time.

THE FIRST akhara to enter the ‘shahi snan’ was the Panchayati Akhara Mahanirvani and among the last being the Juna Akhara of naked Naga sadhus who came running to the Ganga for their bath. Many leaders of various Hindu religious orders came to the bathing ghats along the Ganga in processions, and with their tableaux. The day also marked the start of a New Year under the Hindu calendar.

According to Mani Prasad Mishra, DM in charge of Kumbh Mela, the movement of akharas to the bathing ghat was planned and regulated by alloting time to different akharas and creating audience lanes on both sides of the road which the akharas too to the Sangam Ghat.

The state government has deployed 10,000 police personnel on security duty by providing three-tier security cover to regulate visitors and pilgrims. The Kumbh Mela is world's largest human gathering and a world famous festival of India.

Kumbh Mela is the biggest Hindu pilgrimage at the Sangam, meeting place, of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati, at Prayag in Allahabad where bathing for self-purification is taken for granted. The Mela is considered as the biggest human gathering in the world for religious purposes.

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