Mathura, Nov 13 (IANS) Over 1 lakh pilgrims visited the ghats in Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh early Friday and took a dip in river Yamuna on the occasion of Bhai Dooj, officials said.
Thousands of brothers and sisters congregated at the Vishram Ghat in Mathura for the special bath meant to appease the Hindu god of death, Yam Raj.
Priest Yamuna Das Chaubey said the river is believed to be the sister of Yam Raj and that brothers and sisters should take a dip together on the day.
“Only in Mathura, you have a temple of brother and sister,” he said.
Authorities said they were prepared to cope with the rush and provide safety cover for the pilgrims.
“Special lights have been installed,” an official told IANS.
The UP state roadways deployed additional fleet of buses to Mathura.
The Yamuna ghats in Vrindavan and Mathura were swept clean and barricades being put up to regulate crowd movement.
“Over 1 lakh pilgrims, including many NRIs, reached at the ghats on Friday,” an official said.
A shopkeeper near the Dwarkadheesh Temple said all hotels near the ghats were full.
On Thursday, a day after Diwali, community feasting here with more than 56 different food-items in the temples of Sri Krishna was the chief attraction for many devouts.
Many of them started arriving in the Goverdhan hill-town for the ‘parikrama’ and the celebrations. A large number of foreign pilgrims are in Mathura town, chanting bhajans as they perform the 21-km long ‘parikrama’.
Goverdhan puja is celebrated in Agra division that includes the entire Braj Mandal and the districts of Aligarh, Firozabad, and Hathras.
The Goverdhan is made of cow-dung and the community collectively worships the deity with sweets and milk.
The immersion in the river or ponds takes place the next day, according to another priest, Mahesh Pandit Shukla.
For the past few years, the size of the Goverdhan has been increasing and is up to 20 feet now.
Many community feasts such as food items, sweets and dry fruits are offered to Goverdhan.
“This is one way of bonding with the people,” said activist Jagan Nath Poddar.