Magh Mela begins as lakhs of devotees take holy dip, faith trumps Covid fear
On Thursday, Magh Mela commenced at Prayagraj amid a rush of devotees and traffic diversions at all entry points of the city. This 57 day long mela started with the first official bathing at the sangam.
On the occasion of Makar Sakranti, devotees came in a large number to Prayagraj for the Magh Mela. Despite the chilling winters and fear of COVID-19, lakhs of pilgrims took holy dips in the sangam. However, in a deviation from the past editions of the annual fair, no official figure was released by the mela administration.
Sharad Mishra, a purohit, said, “It is the best way to beat the cold and spend the night by reciting the name of god. Within a few hours, it will be dawn and the pilgrims will be ready to take a holy dip in the river,”
Devotees, who had started arriving in large numbers from Wednesday itself, continued to arrive all through the day on Thursday. At the entry points pilgrims were allowed to pass after scanning their body temperatures.
The rush was less than it was expected due to which pilgrims were not found taking dip shoulder to shoulder at the Ghats. But still most of the devotees were found violating the social distancing norms.
Due to fog in the morning many people were not able to reach the ghats on time but eventually the rush increased after the sun warmed up the day. While waiting for the holy bath in the morning, pilgrims sang devotional songs to traditional music accompanied by harmonium, cymbals, ‘chimtas’, in their camps. Apart from the songs, seers performed special ritual to celebrate Makar Sankranti.
Magh Mela Adhikari, Vivek Chaturvedi, said the first official bathing passed off smoothly without any untoward incident.
The appeals made to follow Covid protocols went into vain as the sounds of prayers and devotional songs dominated the camps.
Besides Uttar Pradesh, devotees from other states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, etc are camping in Magh Mela area for the month-long religious practice, unique to Prayagraj.
This fair of faith goes on for about two months and around five crore devotees are expected to come from the country and the world.