A Hindu devotee offer prayers to the Sun God after taking a ritualistic bath at the Triveni Sangam, the meeting point of the Indian holy rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna, on the auspicious day of “Paush Purnima” during the annual Magh Mela festival in Allahabad, India, on Jan. 2, 2018.(Photo: Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP)
ALLAHABAD, India (AP) — Some 200,000 Hindu pilgrims arrived at the confluence of two major Indian rivers TuesdaSy on the first major bathing day of a 45-day annual ritual known as the Magh Mela.
Many stay in makeshift houses or tents in the northern city of Allahabad, where the Yamuna river meets the Ganges as well as the mythical Saraswati river.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, some 500,000 people were expected to bathe in the holy waters on the first astronomically-auspicious day.
A Hindu holy man offers prayers after taking ritualistic dips at “Sangam,” the meeting point of Indian holy rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna, on the auspicious day of “Paush Purnima” during the annual traditional fair of Magh Mela in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Photo: Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP)
From Sunday evening onwards, pilgrims started arriving in large numbers on tractor trolleys, buses, and on foot carrying bundles filled with items needed during the observance, which concludes with a fifth bathing of Maghi Purnima on Jan. 31, and solemn Maha Shivratri observance on Feb. 13.
The Hindustan Times reports that several accommodations must be made to handle the population swell associated with the ritual bathing days, as traffic diversions are imposed from Monday morning to ban heavy vehicles from inside the city limits one day before each of the six official bathing days.
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation has pressed in around 1,500 buses on different routes in the state. As per corporation officials, 700 buses have started operating from Sunday onwards for bringing in devotees to Allahabad region from different parts of the state, while an additional 800 buses of different regions in the state will cater to the devotee crowd, the news report stated.
According to district administration, around 150 million devotees are expected to bathe in the river during this period, according to the Times.
To provide for adequate drinking water and electrictiy, 145 kilometers of underground drinking-water pipeline has been connected , and 16 wells were brought online, and the power department has erected around 9,000 electricity poles for overhead cables, the newspaper reported.
In neighboring Nepal, Hindus offered prayers along the banks of the Hanumante river as their month-long Madhav Narayan festival started in the city of Bhaktapur, as devotees recited holy scriptures, and women begin fasting for a month to pray for the longevity of their husbands.
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