One of the world’s largest religious festivals, the Kumbh Mela kick-started on January 15 at Prayagraj – formerly known as Allahabad – in Uttar Pradesh.
Devotees participate in the mega event with the belief that taking a dip in the holy water of Ganges River will pave the way for their salvation and would rid them of their sins.
While more than 12 crore pilgrims are likely to take part in the festival – which spans over eight-weeks – millions took a holy dip into the icy waters during the first Shahi Snan, or Royal Bath, which began at 4 am on Tuesday.
As a part of the Shahi Snan, sadhus or seers belonging to 13 Akhadas take a dip in the holy rivers along the banks of Ganges near to the spot where the Mela takes place.
Terming it ‘Akhada beyond sexuality’, Kinnar Akhada has also called their first-time participation at the Kumbh 2019 as a step forward towards acceptance in the society.
Earlier, Kinnar Akhada Mahamandaleshwar, Acharya, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi exhumed pride and confidence while talking of her Akhada’s debut at this massive congregation of pilgrims.
Tripathi said, “For me, it is a wonderful situation to come to this divine Prayagraj Kumbh. For me, we are one of the most conservative societies in the world where the acceptance of the third gender is remarkably outstanding. For us, this participation is about mainstream society accepting us. This is Akhada beyond sexuality. The creator is within us and once we perish we will go back to him. Our doors are open for all.”
Besides saints and seers, foreign tourists have also arrived to attend the event.
The Kumbh Mela will end on March 4.