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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Nearly one crore pilgrims take holy dip at Gangasagar on Makar Sankranti: Official

Describing the Gangasagar Mela as one of the world's largest religious congregations, Bengal power minister Aroop Biswas urged the Union govt to declare it as a 'national fair'

PTI Gangasagar Published 16.01.24, 10:39 AM
Pilgrims after taking holy bath at the Sagar Island on the occasion of 'Makar Sankranti' during Gangasagar Mela, in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

Pilgrims after taking holy bath at the Sagar Island on the occasion of 'Makar Sankranti' during Gangasagar Mela, in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. PTI

Nearly one crore pilgrims from across the country attended the Gangasagar Mela and took a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal on Makar Sankranti early Monday, a senior official said.

Traditionally, every year during Makar Sankranti, lakhs of devotees make their way to Gangasagar in West Bengal's South 24 District to take the ritualistic dip and engage in prayer rituals at the revered Kapil Muni Temple.

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"This year, the gathering at Gangasagar has broken all past records with a footfall of nearly one crore. Nearly a crore pilgrims took a dip in the sacred waters. Additionally, these pilgrims also offered prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple," a press statement said.

Describing the Gangasagar Mela as one of the world's largest religious congregations, state power minister Aroop Biswas urged the Union government to declare it as a "national fair". Last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the same request.

However, ferry services to Gangasagar, located in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district, faced disruptions for approximately six hours on Monday due to dense fog, according to a police officer.

"Ferry services experienced an interruption from 3.30am to 9:40am because of heavy fog. The suspension was implemented as a safety precaution," explained the officer from Sundarbans Police District. Disruptions affected ferry services from Kachuberia and Lot 8.

Superintendent of Police Koteswara Rao confirmed the resumption of ferry services after visibility conditions improved.

This disruption resulted in a backlog, with at least 40 vessels ferrying passengers to or from Gangasagar, the officer added.

Given the substantial congregation of pilgrims, the state government heightened security measures at Sagar Island.

In addition to state police, personnel from NDRF, SDRF, and the Coast Guard have been deployed with appropriate equipment to respond to any potential emergencies.

Biswas on Sunday, had said, "Nearly 65 lakh pilgrims have visited Gangasagar Mela until Sunday noon since the fair's inauguration on January 8." He added that the fairground, sprawling across the beach, is now under the surveillance of approximately 1,100 CCTV cameras and 22 drones. Security personnel, including 14,000 policemen, oversee the event, and 45 watch towers have been erected.

Pilgrims are being transported to Sagar Island through 36 vessels, 100 launches, and six barges operating across 22 jetties.

To enhance visibility on the Muriganga River, 300 fog lights have been strategically installed.

According to Hrishikesh Panjika, the auspicious timing for 'punya snan' or the holy bath on Makar Sankranti began at 12.13am on Monday and will continue for the next 24 hours. Most of the devotees will follow this timing and take the holy dip.

However, some devotees followed the Mahabir Panjika, according to which, the auspicious timing for the holy bath began at 8.42am on Sunday.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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