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Pilgrims’ progress from Sangam to Baidyanath Dham , Varanasi July 15th, 2019 from Times of India

Pilgrims’ progress from Sangam to Baidyanath Dham , Varanasi

After the Kumbh drew millions of devotees from across India, the pilgrims’ progress continues into the holy month of Shrawan. Thousands of Shiva devotees from neighbouring states are trooping into the Sangam for ‘jalabhishek’.
Shrikant, 35, walked 130km from Manduadih village along with a group of kanwariyas on Sunday to carry holy water from the Sangam to Baidyanath dham in for ‘jalabhishek’. Just two days remain for the auspicious month to begin and they will be walking a total distance of 500km on foot.

Devotees say many kanwariyas plan to visit Pashupatinath in Nepal to offer ‘jalabhishek’ after collecting holy water from Sangam. They again collect water from Sultanganj for ‘jalabhishek’ at Baidyanath dham, straddling a distance of 105km.
Noted religious scholar AK Tiwari said, “The number of Shiva devotees, popularly known as kanwariyas are expected to increase over next two days, but many groups from Prayagraj and neighouring districts will travel to Pashupathi Nath, Baidyanath, Kashi and other prominent Shiva shrines.”
With kanwariyas from across neighbouring states trooping into Sangam, the arterial Allahabad-Varanasi road will remain chock-a-block for next 20 days and traffic will be diverted.

Since Shiva devotees cannot park their water pots on the ground till jalabhishek, religious and social organisations have come forward to put up makeshift stands where pots can be placed. All along the route to Kashi and Jharkhand, voluntary organisations have also put up food and medical stalls.

Tiwari said, “Religious fervor in Shravan has picked up over the four to five years. At least 20-30 lakh kanwariyas trek to Kashi and Jharkhand every year.”
In other parts of the country, there are also dak kanwariyas who run in their return yatra. These runners, normally travelling in a group, have to complete the journey within a specified period, (28-56 hours). And each leg of the journey is covered by a different yatri from the same group. While one of them runs with the water pot, others follow him in a vehicle and take over after a fixed duration.
SP ( traffic) Kuldeep Singh said “ the traffic police authorities have already diverted the route to offer a safe and secure passage to devotees’. He added “ Elaborate security arrangements are also underway on route from Prayag to Kashi where kanwariyas would covering miles of distance on foot.”

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