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

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

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.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

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 Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

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.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

A young priest who took a dip at the fair.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

Devotees pay their respects to the rising sun.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

After the holy dip, devotees hug each other.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

A father and son enjoy their time at the Fair.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

The fair also sees performances by groups of travelling musicians.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

Palm reading and other activities entertain visitors for the rest of the day.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

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.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

Another pilgrim, from Uttar Pradesh, stood shivering in the cold. He had lost his clothes after taking a dip in the river.

At the Gangasagar Mela devotees jostle with sadhus for space brave freezing waters for holy dip

After the holy dip, exhausted pilgrims head back to Sealdah station by a local train.

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