On the occasion of Basant Panchami, crores of devotees are expected to participate in the third ‘shahi snan’ at Kumbh Mela on Sunday. The festival of Basant Panchami heralds the arrival of spring and is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom. 'Shahi snan' is the central highlight of the Kumbh Mela and the most important part of the celebration. It is only after the completion of 'shahi snan' that people are allowed to take the holy dip. The auspicious Panchami timing is till 2.09 pm and taking the holy dip during this period and also making offerings to the needy hold special significance. Prior to Basant Panchami, shahi snans were held on Makar Sankranti on January 15 and Mauni Amawasya on February 4.
Shahi Snan by Akhada Sadhu like Niranjani Akhara and Juna Akhada is the centre of attraction in Kumbh Mela. Naked saints (naga sadhu) with their bodies smeared with ash take part in Akhada procession. Saints are given preference over common people. It is believed that when Garuda was carrying Immortal Nectar (Amrita) which was churned out from Kshir Sagar, fell at 4 places of Kumbh Mela from the pitcher. So, these places have immense importance and carry the value of immortality by removing sins. Shahi Snan or Ceremonial Bath in Rivers on Auspicious time is a way to get rid of sins and attain Moksha as per belief of Hinduism. Shahi Snan is a ritual carrying great faith and devotion of Hindu devotees. It is a symbolic ritual and has mythological significance. Shahi Snan makes Kumbh Mela Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Allahabad Mayor Abhilasha Gupta Nandi told PTI, "Basant Panchami is the third and last shahi snan of the Kumbh. By taking three dips on this day, a devotee gets the blessings of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Hence, it holds tremendous significance for people." Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand said that more than two crore people from different walks of life are likely to arrive here to take a dip on the occasion of Basant Panchami.