A sea of humanity, some drawn from abroad, braving the sultry weather on Saturday flooded the banks of Kshipra river for the ongoing third and last ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) of the Simhastha-Kumbh Mela, marking the end of the month-long festival.
The ‘snan’ began in the wee hours with Naga and other sadhus of various akharas venturing into the holy Kshipra chanting “Har Har Mahadev”. The snan will end tonight.
The third royal bath has become all the more important as it coincides with Buddh Purnima (full moon day), said priest Ishwar Sharma. “Lakhs of people have converged from several parts of the country to take the holy dip,” Madhya Pradesh Transport Minister and in charge of Simhastha Mela Bhupendra Singh told PTI at Ramghat.
The Minister claimed that a total of 7.5 crore people have taken part in the mela (till noon) which turned out to be a “Mahakumbh.” All roads in Ujjain are packed with devotees jostling to reach the banks of Kshipra or the holy dip.
The Minister termed the Simhastha, which is being organised here after a gap of every 12 years, as a “grand success.” Referring to the squall that hit the mela on May 5 and claimed seven lives including two accidents and causing injuries to nearly 100 others, Singh said though 700 tents were damaged, the casualties were not much if you look at the damages that the storm had caused.
Ram ghat has been decked up for the holy dip where the Naga sadhus of Juna, Agni, Aahvan and Vaishnav akharas along with their Heads took dip carrying their flags, deities and traditional symbols since 3 AM. After the akhara ‘snan’ got over, scores rushed towards various ghats especially Ram Ghat to take the holy dip.
The Minister also informed that there was no pollution in the river and maintained that good hygiene condition prevailed at ghats and also in Ujjain city. He said during the month-long mela, nearly 10,000 foreigners visited Ujjain. A devotee from Ireland, Brendan Lawlor, said, “I have enjoyed my stay in Ujjain and the arrangements in the holy city were very good.”
A French lady, Sonia Koszul, also praised arrangements at the Simhastha mela. “I got interested in attending this religious fair after coming to know about it through the internet,” she said.
A differently-abled devotee from Chhattisgarh, Maniram Sahu, said he was here since last nine days and hasn’t faced any difficulty. Aides of Baba Krishnanand, a wheelchair-bound centenarian spiritual leader, who arrived here from Haridwar also praised the arrangements at the massive congregation of Hindus.
However, pilgrims coming different parts of the country faced difficulty in reaching the main ghats for snan and had to walk at least 4-5 kms in scorching heat to take the holy dip. A devotee, Rakesh, said, “I got stuck for four hours in the traffic last night and finally came back to the hotel without taking bath. We took the dip today.”
On the occasion, a multitude of people visited the popular Mahakaleshwar temple here which houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. The devotees had to wait for two hours in serpentine queues to offer prayers to Lord Shiva.