In pics: Significance of taking a dip on 'Mauni Amavasya' at ongoing Kumbh Mela
A look at devotees participating in 'Mauni Amavasya', one of the most sacred bathing days at the Kumbh Mela.
'New moon day of Magha month'
Mauni Amavasya is the new moon day of the Magha month, which falls in late January or early February.
It assumes greater significance if it falls on a Monday during the Kumbh, which happens to be the case this time.
One of the biggest sacred bathing days
'Mauni Amavasya' marks the second 'Shahi Snan' (royal bath) of the 50-day Kumbh Mela — the largest congregation in the world.
It is traditionally the biggest of all the sacred bathing days in the Mela.
The Kumbh witnesses altogether three 'Shahi Snans', the first of which took place on Makar Sankranti (January 15) and the third and the last is scheduled on Basant Panchmi (February 10).
Over 3 crore pilgrims are expected
The grand religious event, which started on January 15 on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, is expecting participation of over three crore pilgrims for 'Mauni Amavasya'.
Sadhus of 13 akharas will take the holy bath first
Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh) who have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela will be the first to take the holy bath.
It is believed that on this day, first sage Rishabh Dev broke his long vow of silence and bathed in the holy waters.
Many devotees take up a vow of silence on this day.
Arrangements for easier access of pilgrims
There is a restricted vehicle entry in the vicinity of Kumbh Nagri, according to the administration, over 500 shuttle buses have been deployed on various routes for easier access to the pilgrims in the upcoming days.
As per officials, over 40 police stations and as many fire stations have been set up in the Kumbh Nagari to deal with any emergency.
'World's most populous place'
About 12 crore people are expected to visit Kumbh till March 4, when the festival will come to a close.
Owing to the massive turnout, the ephemeral mega city on Monday, though briefly, could possibly become the most populous place in the world.
Roots of Kumbh mela in Hindu tradition
The Kumbh Mela has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the god Vishnu wrested a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality from demons.
In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, who share the Kumbh as a result.
Kumbh: Festival of pots
The Kumbh Mela, or "festival of the pot", held this year in Prayagraj, in Uttar Pradesh, organisers expect up to 150 million people to bathe at the confluence of three holy rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna and a mythical third river, the Saraswati.
Devout Hindus believe bathing in the waters of the Ganges absolves people of sins and at the time of the Kumbh Mela, or the "festival of the pot", it brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.