The Sangam, confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, is all set to witness the last dip of the Kumbh Mela on Mahashivratri on Monday, after more than 22 crore devotees took a holy bath here.
"This day symbolises the last holy bath of the Kalpvasis and is directly related to Lord Shiva. As per the mythology, this day is awaited in the heavens as well," said Gunjan Varshney, president of Ram Naam Bank,.
She also said it was on this day that Lord Shiva got married, and hence is eagerly awaited by his followers, who worship him.
Explaining about the significance of Mahashivratri, Ashutosh Varshney of Grah Nakshtram, who has set up his camp in Allahabad, said, "Mahashivratri marks the culmination of the Kumbh and the prominent bathing days. And this time Mahashivratri is falling on a Monday – the day dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is falling after a long time."
The Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, held in Uttar Pradesh's Allahabad from January 15 on Makar Sakranti to March 4 this year.
"This is a very rare coincidence and the Sangam area will remain more crowded than previous years since it is the last bating day," he said.
He also said 'Rudrabhishek' of 'shivling' is also done on this day. In the Kumbh held in Sangam city, there were six bathing dates. "Of these, shahi snaans were held on occasions of Makar Sankranti (January 15), Mauni Amawasya (February 4) and Basant Panchami (February 10).
"Apart from this, 'parv snaans have been held on the occasion of Paush Poornima (January 21) and Maghi Poornima (February 19)," Varshney said.
Elaborate arrangements have been made by administration for the last bathing ritual of the Kumbh, which expects around one crore devotees at the mega event held at the Sangam.
"Around one crore devotees and pilgrims from different walks of life are expected to take a dip in Sangam on the occasion of Mahashivratri. More than 22 crore people have so far taken dip in the ongoing Kumbh," Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand said.
The Uttar Pradesh Police has also geared up for a seamless and incident-free Kumbh, spread over 3,200 hectare land in Sangam city.
"The entire Kumbh Mela area has been demarcated into nine zones and 20 sectors with the deployment of over 20,000 police personnel, 6,000 homeguards, 40 police stations, 58 outposts, 40 fire stations, 80 companies of central force and 20 companies of PAC," Director General of Police (DGP) of UP O P Singh earlier told PTI.
With a view to counter any terrorist activity, Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) commandoes, anti-sabotage commandoes with snipers, bomb disposal units, sniffer dog squads and intelligence units have also been pressed into service, Singh said.
The Kumbh draws lakhs of pilgrims over the course of approximately 55 auspicious days to bathe at the Sangam. It is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years.
In another related development, Kumbh Mela 2019 has been placed in the Guinness World Records in three sectors. It includes largest traffic and crowd management plan, the biggest painting exercise of public sites under paint my city scheme and biggest sanitation and waste disposal mechanism.
A three member team from Guinness World Records visited the Prayagraj for this purpose. Exercise at large scale were done before the team members for three days from February 28 to March 3.
Around 503 shuttle buses were pressed into service in one go for the team on February 28 on the highway. Several people participated in painting exercise on March 1 and 10 thousand workers engaged in cleaning at Prayagraj Kumbh performing their duties all together.
Five bathing festivals of the Kumbh have concluded successfully.
(With inputs from PTI)