Varanasi, Jan 21 (IANS) The Kinnar Akhada (a group of transgender saints) participated in the Kumbh Mela’s ritual dip in the Ganga on Monday at the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj this year.
Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Lakshmi Narayanan Tripathi said that transgenders were badly exploited in the society and even their parents were forced to live a disgraceful life but this year, transgenders have been provided with a forum to live a dignified life with rituals.
“Transgenders have been part of Sanatan Dharm and they have been given respectful status in religious epics and books of Hindu mythology,” said Tripathi.
“The Akhara has provided a forum to transgenders to pursue a dignified life with religious rituals. Juna Akhara, a traditional powerful Akhara of Sanyasi saints and seers, has given the recognition to Kinnar Akhara and has allowed them to be part of ‘Shahi Snan’ procession,” he said in a statement.
After shashi snan, the second bathing festival Paush purnima of the Kumbh also concluded in a peaceful way on Monday with around 1 crore devotees taking a holy dip.
” As many as 1.7 crore devotees took a holy dip. No untoward incident was reported from any part of the Mela area. However, three devotees including an Italian woman were saved from drowning at Sangam area by NDRF personnel,” Chief Executive Officer of Prayagraj Kumbh Vijay Kiran Anand said.
Lakhs of devotees congregated on the banks of Sangam – the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati — to take a holy dip. The bathing started from midnight and continued till late evening. Elaborate security arrangements were place for bathing, Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
The month-long Paush Purnima to Maghi Purnima Kalpvas also began from Monday. Devotees spend one month on the banks of the Sangam worshipping their lords and taking a holy dip in the Ganga and Sangam during the Kalpvas.
About 8 km long Ghat was developed at Sangam for Monday’s bathing. Similarly 35 bathing baths are developed on the banks of Ganga.
“Devotees should come to the ghats near their sectors to avoid huge rush at Sangam,” said CEO Prayagraj Mela Authority.
DIG Mela KP Singh, meanwhile, has said that spotters have been deployed in Mela area to act against anti-social elements and criminals.
The next bathing festival of Mauni Amavasya will be celebrated on February 4. It is considered the most important bathing festival of Kumbh.
Kinnar Akhara has set up a huge camp at Sector 12 at Prayagraj Kumbh and it attracts hundreds of thousand devotees on a daily basis to seek blessings of the akhara members.
Akhara’s camp will continue till Mahashivaratri, contrary to traditional Akharas who leave the Mela after taking third Shahi Snan on Basant Panchami.