New Delhi: Union minister for textiles Smriti Irani seems to have beaten the Kumbh Mela rush hour at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday, taking a ritual dip in the Sangam at the crack of dawn on the day of Makar Sankranti. She promptly tweeted a photograph of herself after the ‘shahi snan’, captioning it ‘Har Har Gange’.
Twitterati were solicitous: “Take Care, Dear Smriti Ji! A report by your government’s Central Pollution Control Board says that taking a dip in the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar could expose people to 5-13 times more than permissible limit of faecal coliform (FC) bacteria.”
Notably, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have waxed eloquent on the preparations for the holy dip, which according to legend, opens the doors to heaven. At the break of dawn, lakhs of devotees, ascetics and religious leaders of various orders congregated at the Sangam for the ritual dip in ice cold water. Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh), which have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation in the world, were the first to take the holy bath known as ‘Shahi Snan’.