Allahabad, Feb 12 (PTI) The three ‘shahi snan’ held during the ongoing Kumbh this year accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total pilgrims and visitors to the Sangam city, according to the Mela administration.

It said, so far over 16.44 crore people have taken a dip during the Kumbh, the largest congregation in the world.

Of these, more than 9 crore people have taken a dip on the three ‘shahi snan’ — Makar Sankranti on January 15 (2.25 crore); Mauni Amawasya on February 4 (5.50 crore); and Basant Panchami on February 10 (1.50 crore), the administration said.

On Paush Poornima on January 21, 1.07 crore pilgrims had taken a dip in Sangam area, but that did not fall under the category of ‘shahi snan’.

According to a booklet published by the UP Information department, the number of pilgrims visiting the Kumbh was initially estimated to be 12 crore.

However, UP Cabinet minister and leader of SBSP (Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party) Om Prakash Rajbhar questioned the statistics of the pilgrims turning up at congregation.

“On what basis are they (government) claiming that around 15 crore people have visited the Kumbh Mela? Can they tell which route has been opted by the devotees and pilgrims, while arriving to the Kumbh and departing from it?” Rajbhar posed while talking to reporters.

According to Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) president Narendra Giri, There are three shahi snaans (royal bathing days) out of the six bathing dates during the Kumbh Mela. The shahi snan are held on Makar Sankranti, Mauni Amawasya and Basant Panchami.

The three Parv snan are Paush Poornima (January 21), Maghi Poornima (February 19) and Mahashivratri (March 4).

The 2019 Kumbh Mela commenced on January 15 on Makar Sankranti — first bathing day. Mahashivratri on March 4 will mark the last bathing day.

Devotees take holy dips at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati river.

‘Shahi snaan’ is the central highlight of the Kumbh Mela and the most important part of the celebration. It is only after the completion of ‘shahi snan’ that people are allowed to take the holy dip, Giri said.

Meanwhile, Umesh Tiwari who runs Bhoole Bhatke Shivir (Lost and Found camp) Monday alleged that the mela administration has stopped providing electricity to his camp.

“As a result, I am facing difficulty in using the public address system to facilitate the lost persons establish contact with their family members,” Tiwari said.

Rebutting the allegation, Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand told PTI, “We have decided to stop the loudspeaker announcement system as it generated too much noise and people were unable to speak to each other.” “This was done after a number of people complained that they are unable to speak owing to the continuous announcements made by the Bhoole Bhatke Shivir staff,” he said.

The Kumbh Mela police used gas balloons as an indicator to the public thronging the mela area to locate the lost and found centres run by it.

The Kumbh Mela authority, along with the police department, has established 15 high-tech Lost and Found registration centres across the Mela area. These centres facilitate the lost pilgrims to reunite with their families and friends. This facility will provide digital registration of lost pilgrims at all centres and help them unite with their kin.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.