New Delhi: Over two crores of Hindu devotees are expected to take a holy dip in the Sangam on Sunday on the occasion of Basant Panchami–the third ‘shahi snan (royal bath) of the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. Devotees have started thronging at the river bank.

Security in the city was beefed up a day before to avoid any untoward incident. Security personnel, including UP Police and central paramilitary forces, were deployed at different crossings and parts of the city. The Mela commenced on January 15 on Makar Sankranti, the first bathing day, and the Mahashivratri on March 4 will mark its last bathing day.

Allahabad Mayor Abhilasha Gupta Nandi told PTI, “Basant Panchami is the third and last shaahi snan of the Kumbh. By taking three dips on this day, a devotee gets the blessings of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Hence, it holds tremendous significance for people.”

Traffic diversion has been imposed on the side of the fair and district police to keep the traffic system on Basant Panchami. Under this, two-wheeler vehicles will be stopped from 12 am on the night of February 9 in the city. Apart from this, four wheelers will not run till February 11.

The festival of Basant Panchami is celebrated as the arrival of spring and is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati.

During the first shahi snan around 1.4 crore people had taken the ritual bath in the holy waters of the Sangam. While on Paush Purnima—the second shahi snan—around 70 lakh devotees had taken dip.

It is traditionally called ‘Ardh Kumbh’ as it takes place twice in 12 years. But the present Uttar Pradesh government recently renamed it ‘Kumbh’.

Notably, Uttar Pradesh government has developed a high-tech, modernised lost and found facility at the Mela to make the process of reuniting families and friends more efficiently.

The 55-day long Kumbh Mela will end on March 4. It is the largest human congregation in the world, with over 130 million pilgrims expected to participate in the festival with the belief that taking a dip in the holy water of Ganges River will pave the way for their salvation and would rid them of their sins.