Thursday, February 11, 2010
Haridwar gears up to host lakhs of devotees for 'shahi snan' (India)
Source DDI News
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 in Haridwar 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. (RBY-11/02)