More than one million pilgrims thronged the famous Kaila Devi shrine in Rajasthan, waving red flags and singing religious songs to mark the start of the nine-day Navratras festival. Krishna Pal Singh, the head of the erstwhile ruling family of Karauli state where the shrine is located, some 200 km from here, hoisted a flag Friday to kick off the festivities.
Groups of men, women and children, decked in red scarves and white dhotis were seen singing hymns and folk songs to express their devotion to the deity. "The darshan of the Devi remained open till late on Friday night," Dinesh, a devotee, said.
Girdhari Singh, a member of the Kaila Devi trust, said: "It is bigger than the Kumbh (mela). More than 50 lakh (five million) pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine during the Navratras."
The Karauli yatra is the biggest fair in southeast Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh's Agra division, attracting devotees from places like Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Bharatpur.Free community kitchens, resting places and dispensaries have been built along the route to the shrine for the convenience of devotees.