A sea of humanity descended on Allahabd as the Maha Kumbh got off to a colorful start, with the Shahi Snan of different akharas at the sangam. The congregation, described as the “greatest show on earth”, was marked by the first “Shahi Snan” of 13 “akharas” of Naga Sadhus – martial ascetics who move naked or scantily clad with matted hair and ash-smeared bodies. The Naga leaders marched on decorated elephants, horses and chariots, accomapnied by musical bands.
The “Shahi Snan” is a star attraction at the event which began at 6 AM as awestruck onlookers gathered to have a look.The akharas are allotted fixed time from 30-60 minutes for bathing. The Mela, held every 12 years, will conclude on Maha Shivaratri on March 10.
Huge crowds are also expected on Mauni Amavasya (February 10, 3 crore) and Basant Panchmi (February 15, 1.9 crore).