Sagar Island (West Bengal), Jan 14 (IANS) About 600,000 devotees took a holy dip in the icy cold waters of the Ganga on the occasion of Makar Sankranti Monday, at this island considered auspicious by Hindus.
"Around six lakh devotees have taken the holy dip so far. Nothing untoward has fortunately occurred," South 24 Parganas district magistrate N.S. Nigam said.
Braving chilly weather, the devotees began taking the dip at the confluence of the river with the Bay of Bengal, known as Gangasagar, from the early hours Monday.
"There is a belief that no matter how many times you visit other pilgrimages, your spiritual journey is never complete unless you visit Gangasagar once. That is why I have come here," said a youngster.
Meanwhile, around 20 persons have been arrested for petty crimes here.
"Adequate security measures have been put in place. Security personnel are patrolling the entire area and we have put CCTV cameras at strategic places. So far we have arrested 20 persons for petty crimes," Superintendent of Police (South 24 Parganas) Pravin Tripathi said.
Sagar Island, about 150 km from Kolkata in South 24 Parganas district, sees a massive gathering of people every Makar Sankranti, celebrated each year on Jan 14. Offerings of coconuts are made at the Kapil Muni temple here.
The devout believe that a single dip in the sacred water at this time washes off the sins of a lifetime.
Several state ministers, including Public Health Engineering Minister Subrata Mukherjee, are camping on the island to supervise arrangements.