Allahabad: The biggest human gathering will congregate at Uttar Pradesh's Allahabad city to participate in the greatest show on earth - Maha Kumbh Mela. A whopping one crore people are estimated to take a dip on Monday in the confluence of three holy rivers - the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. In the next 56 days, over 10 crore pilgrims are expected in the city.
The most visible part of this massive pilgrimage are the naga sadhus - the first citizens of Kumbh Mela. Naked, ash smeared, fearsome and by far the most photographed, these sadhus are the centre of attraction for everyone who participates in Kumbh.
The Haath Khadeshwar Baba, for instance, claims he has held his right and up for the last two decades. Another sadhu, the Khadeshwar Baba, in the tent next to the Haath Khadeshwar Baba, has not sat down for almost 10 years. "Everyone has his or her own passion. There is only one Ganges, but it has so many banks. Some have taken the vow to remain silent, some have pledged to raise their hands, or some, like me, have been standing. Everyone is on the path to find his or her destination," said the Khadeshwar Baba.
Maha Kumbh that comes every 12 years will see its first main dip on auspicious day of Makar Sakranti on Monday, but the one giving officials sleepless nights is on February 10 - the last main dip. "The biggest challenge is Mauni Amavasya on February 10, when two crore people are anticipated to be in the city. A small mistake can throw the system haywire. It is definitely my karma that has brought me here, maybe it is ordained," Alok Sharma, Inspector-General of Allahabad said.
Maha Kumbh is also an administrative and logistical nightmare and has taken a year for the authorities to raise the Kumbh city along the confluence, which is where most pilgrims and sadhus stay. 20,000 police personnel and 250 cameras man its 58 square km spread. The Mela is expected to generate 6 lakh jobs and Rs 12000 crore in revenue.