Simhastha Kumbh Mela began on 14 July with thousands of people taking a holy dip in Kushawart and Ramkund in Godavari river.
In Trimbakeshwar, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and MoS women and child welfare Pankaja Munde took part as chief guests, while chief minister Devendra Fadnavis presided over.
The mela occurs once in 12 years as per the Hindu calendar and is marked by participation of ‘sadhus’ from different akhadas and lakhs of devotees. Kumbh is also known for its pomp and colourful processions.
The festival will last for almost a year, as per a statement of Trimbakeshwar Purohit Sangh. “This is not a usual dip, but one of faith which washes away evil and brings luck,” said Jayant Shikhre, sangh chairperson.
A naval helicopter showered flower petals on the people that have gathered during the flag-hoisting at Trimbakeshwar.
After the ceremony, thousands who come to Trimbakeshwar from across the country took a dip at Kushavart teerth situated near the temple. The dates for shahi snan (royal bath), when seers of various ‘akharas’ will take a royal dip (shahi snan) in the Godavari river are August 29, September 13 and 25 in Trimbakeshwar. Nearly three lakh sadhus are expected to be in Nashik on those days.
Around 80 lakh to one crore people may be in Nashik during the three auspicious days of the ‘shahi snan’ and around 25 to 30 lakh in Trimbakeshwar.
For the event, security has been strengthened in both towns, while new roads have been laid by the district administration to assist movement of devotees going to and returning from the river. Extra ghats were built to avert crowding at Ramkund in Nashik.
Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.