400,000 take dip as Gangasagar Fair ends

  • IANS, Sagar Island (West Bengal)
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 15, 2012 20:36 IST
  • A young Indian Hindu pilgrim

    A young Indian Hindu pilgrim takes a holy dip at Gangasagar some 155 Kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Hindu pilgrims take a holy dip

    Indian Hindu pilgrims take a holy dip at Gangasagar some 155 Kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Hindu pilgrims perform rituals

    Indian Hindu pilgrims perform rituals at Gangasagar some 155 Kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Indian Hindu pilgrims

    Indian Hindu pilgrims take a holy dip at Gangasagar some 155 Kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Hindu pilgrims

    Hindu pilgrims perform rituals after taking a holy dip at Gangasagar some 155 Kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Indian Hindu pilgrims

    Indian Hindu pilgrims return after taking a holy dip in Gangasagar, some 155 kms south of Kolkata. AFP Photo/Dibyangshu Sarkar

  • Indian Hindu pilgrims

    Indian Hindu pilgrims wait in long lines to visit a temple after taking a holy dip in Gangasagar, some 155 kms south of Kolkata. AFP ...

  • Hindu pilgrim

    An Indian Hindu pilgrim holds up saris to dry in the wind after taking a holy dip in Gangasagar, some 155 kms south of Kolkata. ...

Around 400,000 devotees from across the country took a holy dip in the Ganga, braving the icy cold water and chilly winds at the annual Gangasagar Fair in Sagar Island on Makar Sankranti on Sunday.

The pilgrims assembled at the island, with several thousands waiting at various entry points to take a dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal.

However, cold claimed one life on Sunday and two on Saturday, while 147 were admitted to various hospitals, officials said.

About 150 km from Kolkata in South 24 Parganas district, this island is considered auspicious by the Hindus, who gather here at this time of the year to take a holy dip and pray by offering coconut at the Kapil Muni temple.

The devout believe that a single dip in the sacred water washes off life's sins.

West Bengal public health engineering minister Subrata Mukherjee, who was present at the fair, expressed satisfaction at the overall arrangements.

"After a long time, people witnessed such a well arranged fair. We have taken special care of sanitation and unlike previous years, this time the beach has been fairly clean. After the fair is over Sunday night, a cleanliness drive will also be undertaken," said Mukherjee.

Stating that there still existed problems regarding transit of people to and from the island, Mukherjee said a permanent jetty will be built before next year’s fair.

With the chief priest of the Kapil Muni temple, Gyan Das, demanding the fair be declared a national festival, Mukherjee said he will talk to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharti too was among the bathers. Her party colleague Jaswant Singh had taken the holy dip on Saturday.

 

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