Five crore devotees expected to visit Simhastha Kumbh Mela

481336-kumbh-melaThe mela that begins on Friday is one of the biggest religious gatherings of the Hindus

Madhya Pradesh’s holy city of Ujjain has geared up to hold one of the biggest religious gatherings of Hindus- Simhastha-Kumbh Mela commencing on Friday, where for the first time transgenders have announced they will participate.

The state government has spent nearly Rs 3,500 crore, some of which has come from the Centre for developing infrastructure, amenities and beautifying Ujjain – a city revered in Hindu scriptures for one of the biggest religious congregations.

“An amount of Rs 3,500 crore has been kept aside to hold the Simhastha mela in a grand way,” state Transport Minister Bupendra Singh, who is overseeing the Mela preparations, said

“Beside the akharas comprising sadhus from all over the country, nearly five crore devotees are expected to take part in the mela. Security for has been steeped up in every nook and corner of the district,” Inspector General of Police Ujjain Madhu Kumar said.

Many crores of devotees will throng the banks of pious river Shipra in the month-long jamboree, the initial attraction may turn out to be ‘peshwai’ (procession) to enter the venue (a traditional practice) by transgenders.

The district administration has allotted a place to eunuchs for their akhara (seers belonging to different denominations).

Seer Rishi Ajay Das said his followers – transgenders – will put up akhara and their ‘peshwai’ to enter the venue will start from Dusshera Maidan at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The move, however, has been opposed by Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad.

“Eunuchs are planning to take out peshwai to enter the the Kumbh mela We can’t let in just anyone to hold a Akhara,” said Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad head Acharya Narendra Giri .

He said the parishad will not allow them to take out the procession, which will see ‘peshwai’ by the traditional 13 Akharas.

Meanwhile, the district administration said it has completed the preparations for the mega juncture. “We are prepared and have made all arrangements for the Kumbh,” Ujjain district collector Kavindra Kiyawat said.

Currently, 22,000 security personnel including state police, central forces, and other departments have been deployed, IG Police Ujjain Madhu Kumar said.

At the time of ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) across various banks of Shipra river, 25,000 security personnel will keep a close watch at the mela venue, the official said.

The Simhastha – one of the biggest Hindus faithful gatherings will commence with shahi snan in Shipra at dawn on April 22, Friday.

Juna Akhara will first venture into the river for the ’shahi snan’ followed by seers of other Akharas.

Meanwhile, Air India Area Manager (MP & Chhattisgarh) Vishrut Acharya said it will run an additional flight between Delhi and Indore daily for Simhastha from April 22 onwards.

Simhastha is one of the four legs of the Kumbh Mela, each taking place by rotation every 12 years.

Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Haridwar are the three places where the Kumbhs are held

Source: The Hindu