With an estimated 500,000 pilgrims expected to take a dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Magh Purnima Saturday, a tight security cover has been thrown around the Maha Kumbh Mela area here, officials said Friday.
Devout Hindus believe that on Magh Purnima, bathing in the Ganga washes away people's sins. Magh Purnima is the full moon in the Hindu month of Magha.
"About 9,000 security personnel have been deployed around the Mela area spread across 130 sq km spanning Haridwar, Dehradun, Pauri and Tehri Garhwal districts," deputy inspector general of police (DIG, Mela) Alok Sharma told IANS.
"Besides the regular police force, security personnel include commandos that have been called from the centre, battalions of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and Rapid Action Force (RAF), river police, bomb disposal squads (BDS) and intelligence sleuths," he added.
According to officials, all rehearsals have been completed for the bath scheduled Saturday.
"Security is paramount for us. Besides Har-ki-Pauri, one of the most visited and revered ghats of Ganga for bathing, we have deployed security personnel in several adjoining regions, including like Chandipul, Shantikunj, VIP Ghat," Anand Vardhan, officer in charge of the Mela, told IANS.
"While CCTV cameras have been installed at a number of places, security officials have also been provided binoculars to keep a close eye on all activities," he added.
The Maha Kumbh comes around once every 12 years.
The religious gathering that began Jan 14 will end April 28 after the Baisakhi Shahi Snan - one of the most important bathing dates on April 14.
According to Hindu mythology, Haridwar is one of the four places where a drop of the nectar of immortality or 'amrit' fell from the pitcher or 'kumbh' when Garuda, the divine bird of Lord Vishnu, was spiriting it away from the demons after a pitched battle.
Since then, Haridwar, along with Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain - the other three places - have been celebrating the Kumbh Mela.