The month-long Simhastha Kumbh Mela commenced here early on Friday with the arrival of the Juna Akhara for the royal bath on the banks of Kshipra river to take a holy dip.Though the saints and seers appeared in full enthusiasm, the first day witnessed a lower then expected participation by general public. Though about 50 lakh people were expected to participate in the first royal bath, however it did not happen.State government spokesperson Narottam Mishra took a holy dip in Kshipra river and prayed for the welfare of Madhya Pradesh, saying it is a spiritual experience beyond expression in words. Congress general secretary and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister all took a holy dip in the river.In the morning, there was a large number of groups of saints or seers representing different Akharas headed to Shipra river.
As per tradition, Naga saints take a bath before anyone else followed by Mahamandleshwars. It is only after them the general public is allowed to take a bath in the river.Heavy security arrangements were in place. The Juna Akhara took a bath at Dutt Ghat at 5.11 a.m. and it was followed by members of other Akharas.The first royal bath was participated by Akhara heads and saints, mahants, Shreemahants, Mahamandleshwars, and Pithadheesh.Among other important participants were Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad president Narendragiri Maharaj, and Juna Akhara's Avdeshanand Giri Maharaj and Swami Satyamitranand of Niranjani Akhara.Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv is based on the celestial line-up of planets and the signs of Zodiac which occurs every 12 years.The Shahi and special holy dates for baths have been scheduled on April 22 (Shahi Snan), May 3, May 6, May 9 (Shahi Snan), May 11, May 15, May 17, May 19 , May 20, and May 21 (Shahi Snan.