100,000 people bathed in the holy river Ganga on the morning of Basant Panchami – the official onset of spring in the country. On this day, Saraswati, the goddess of learning, is venerated across the country.
“One lakh people have already bathed in the morning as part of their Basant Panchami ritual and by evening we expect the numbers to cross 1.5 lakh,” officer-in-charge of the Maha Kumbh Mela, Anand Vardhan, told IANS.
The bathers comprised mostly pilgrims from the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, a few hundred sadhus and foreigners. “The veneration of the goddess Saraswati is not prevalent in northern India. The bathers usually pray to Ganga Maiya, Lord Shiva and Lakshmi Narayan after their bath,” Vardhan said.
Meanwhile, there has been no change in the security arrangements.
“The police are checking every visitor and bather. The arrangements will remain in place in view of the Jan 26 and Jan 30 march of the religious sects (akhadas) which will enter the city of Haridwar in processions,” Vardhan said.
The Naga sadhus will move their city camps to the Maya Devi temple Jan 30. Currently they are camping outside the city at Jwalapur, three km outside Haridwar.
–Indo-Asian News Service