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Ardh Kumbh begins
January 03, 2007 09:53 IST
The Ardh Kumbh mela, considered to be the largest religious congregation in the world after Kumbh, began in Allahabad on Wednesday with the first auspicious bathing taking place in the early hours.
A large number of pilgrims and "Kalpavasis" who observe a month of penance at the mela ground, started taking the holy dip at 04:48 hours at the bathing ghats and also Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Today is auspicious "Paush Poornima" as per the Hindu calendar.
Security was tight at the mela ground as policemen kept a close watch from towers and through CCTVs. Vehicles was also banned.
Earlier, the whole mela ground was sanitised by security personnel in view of the terrorist strikes at places of religious importance in Uttar Pradesh like Ayodhya and Varanasi.
The turnout of devotees on the first day of auspicious bathing was, however, less compared to the official estimate of about 80 lakhs. The bathing would, however, continue till 1630 hours and the authorities expected the turn-out to increase later in the day.
The first royal bathing (Shahi Snan) will take place on Makar Sankranti day (Jan 14-15), when Naga ascetics of Mahanirvana Akahara will lead the bathing procession followed by those of Niranjani and other Akharas.