Since morning, when the ‘Shahi Snan’ got underway at the 20-plus ghats in Nashik and Trimbakeshwar on the Godavari river, the turnout recorded was barely 500,000, said Nashik Deputy Mayor Gurmeet Singh Bagga.
“We have made elaborate arrangements for over three million people expected to attend the first ‘Shahi Snan’. But the turnout has been disappointing,” Bagga told from the venue.
There were several factors affecting the people’s participation leading to a lacklustre event, he said.
The prime reason was the recent Gujarat disturbances which hit road and rail traffic, keeping away a large chunk of nearly one million devotees.
Another reason was the auspicious Raksha Bandhan festival that coincided with the event on Saturday and kept many families away.
Deployement of over 16,000 security personnel created a fear psychosis and kept even local crowds at bay, he explained.
However, Bagga expressed optimism that by sunset, around 1.50 million would have performed the ‘Shahi Snan’.
The festivities are continuing peacefully and systematically under the close watch of massive security presence in and around the twin Mela venues.