At the Gangasagar Mela, devotees jostle with sadhus for space, brave freezing waters for holy dip [Photos]

Every year, on the day of Makar Sankranti, when the sun makes a transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the Sagar Island to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple.

Ritayan Mukherjee January 13, 2020 13:20:43 IST
Every year, on the day of Makar Sankranti, when the sun makes a transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the Sagar Island to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. In this photo: The journey to Gangasagar begins at a temporary camp set up at Babughat, Kolkata for pilgrims and sadhus.
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Every year, on the day of Makar Sankranti, when the sun makes a transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to the Sagar Island to take a holy dip in the river Ganga and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. In this photo: The journey to Gangasagar begins at a temporary camp set up at Babughat, Kolkata for pilgrims and sadhus.
Sagar Island or Gangasagar lies at the mouth of the river Ganga, from where it drains into the Bay of Bengal. In this photo: During their short stay at the camp, devotees observe several acts that the sadhus perform.
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Sagar Island or Gangasagar lies at the mouth of the river Ganga, from where it drains into the Bay of Bengal. In this photo: During their short stay at the camp, devotees observe several acts that the sadhus perform.
At the fair ground, devotees spend time in temporary shelters set-up against rain and mist. The most auspicious time for the holy dip is generally between 4.30 and 6 am. Despite the cold winter morning and freezing water they take dips in, the magnitude of the congregation is second only to that of Kumbh Mela.
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At the fair ground, devotees spend time in temporary shelters set-up against rain and mist. The most auspicious time for the holy dip is generally between 4.30 and 6 am. Despite the cold winter morning and freezing water they take dips in, the magnitude of the congregation is second only to that of Kumbh Mela.
A young priest who took a dip at the fair.
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A young priest who took a dip at the fair.
Devotees pay their respects to the rising sun.
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Devotees pay their respects to the rising sun.
After the holy dip, devotees hug each other.
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After the holy dip, devotees hug each other.
A father and son enjoy their time at the Fair.
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A father and son enjoy their time at the Fair.
The fair also sees performances by groups of travelling musicians.
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The fair also sees performances by groups of travelling musicians.
Palm reading and other activities entertain visitors for the rest of the day.
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Palm reading and other activities entertain visitors for the rest of the day.
An elderly couple from Jharkhand pleads with volunteers to help them find their relatives. At the shelter, people with mobile phones are a source of help. "Can you call my family?" is a constant plea.
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An elderly couple from Jharkhand pleads with volunteers to help them find their relatives. At the shelter, people with mobile phones are a source of help. "Can you call my family?" is a constant plea.
Another pilgrim, from Uttar Pradesh, stood shivering in the cold. He had lost his clothes after taking a dip in the river.
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Another pilgrim, from Uttar Pradesh, stood shivering in the cold. He had lost his clothes after taking a dip in the river.
After the holy dip, exhausted pilgrims head back to Sealdah station by a local train.
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After the holy dip, exhausted pilgrims head back to Sealdah station by a local train.