Allahabad: Lakhs of devotees on Sunday took a holy dip at the Sangam on the auspicious occasion of 'Paush Poornima' during the ongoing Maha Kumbh here, even as eight injured in Friday's fire on Kumbh ground were admitted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi. 'Paush Poornima' also marks the beginning of a month-long 'Kalpvaas' - penance by devotees at the banks of the Ganga.
Braving cold weather, devotees started pouring in since early morning, walking several miles to reach the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati in view of restrictions on vehicular traffic.
Eight of the 19 persons injured in the fire that had erupted in a tent at the Kumbh Mela ground on Friday, were last night sent to Delhi for treatment at the Safdarjung hospital. Two children, as many men and four women, hailing from Madhya Pradesh, have been admitted to the hospital.
Bathing on 'Paush Poornima' is not a 'Shahi Snan' which means this festival is without the razzmatazz witnessed here during grand processions of various akharas. Nevertheless, the steady stream of devotees including women and children despite chilly conditions presented an impressive spectacle.
'Kalpavasis', will stay on the banks of the Ganga not far from the holy confluence, and take holy dips thrice a day but meals only once. They will be sleeping on bare earth with plain-looking and often shabby tents over their heads, and their austerity presents a remarkable contrast to the grandeur with which the akharas and other religious leaders conduct their affairs.
A recent Indo-British study, conducted by psychologists of nine universities from both the countries, has claimed that the 'Kalpavasis' emerge healthier and happier, despite living in noisy and unhygienic conditions for a month, largely on account of a sense of "shared identity" and a shift in attitudes "from competition to cooperation".
Significantly, the Kumbh takes place every 12 years, while 'Kalpavaas' is an annual affair that commences on Paush Poornima and concludes on Magh Poornima, on February 25 this year. Meanwhile, as many as eight persons, hailing from neighbouring districts of Pratapgarh and Sant Ravidas Nagar and Satna in the adjacent state of Madhya Pradesh, injured in the fire on Friday, were last night sent to Delhi for treatment at the Safdarjung hospital.
As many as 19 persons were injured in the fire said to have been caused by leakage in a gas cylinder. The injured people, barring those sent to Delhi, are undergoing treatment in hospitals here.