KONARK : At least four lakh pilgrims took a ritual bath in the holy pond in Chandrabhaga and offered prayers to the Sun God on the auspicious occasion of Magha Saptami.
On the seventh day of the first half of the ‘Magha’ month, pilgrims take a dip in the pond with the age-old belief that a bath in the pond would cleanse them of skin diseases and wash away their sins. After the holy dip the pilgrims offered prayers at Nabagraha temple on the Sun Temple premises.
The pilgrims were allowed to take a dip after their bathing ceremony of the three deities Tribeniswar, Ishaneswar and Dakhineswar was over by midnight. According to tradition, the idols of Lord Shiva were escorted on palanquins from their temples to the Chandrbhaga where they were given a bath.
According to legend, Lord Krishna’s son Shamba was cured of leprosy after a holy dip at the Chandrabhaga river which once flowed through the precincts of the Sun Temple of Konark in Puri district, towards the Bay of Bengal.
The place where Shambha is said to have meditated and worshiped the Sun God for 12 years after bathing has become a sacred spot and devotees believe it has curative properties. Today, the river no longer exists. What is left could be described as a large pond.
The local administration has made elaborate arrangements along the Chandrabhaga coast, about 3 km from the Konark Temple, where hundreds of policemen were deployed. The entry to the Sun Temple was free for the pilgrims on the day.
Tents and barricades were erected along the coast for the convenience of the devotees.