From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Gangasagar Festival
Mains level : Not Much
Lakhs of pilgrims are descending on Sagar Island in the southernmost tip of West Bengal for the annual Gangasagar Mela, being held between January 12 and 14, to celebrate Makar Sankranti.
What is Gangasagar Mela?
- Every year during Gangasagar mela, devotees from all over the country gather at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal to take a sacred dip during Makar Sankranti (mid-January).
- The mela is said to be India’s second largest pilgrimage gathering after the Kumbh Mela.
- Gangasagar, the largest and the oldest living tradition in Bengal, has been mentioned in Indian epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, putting its existence as early as 400 BCE.
- Legends suggest that the first Kapil Muni’s temple was constructed by Queen Satyabhama in 430 AD, and the present idol was established by Swami Ramanand in 1437, marking the beginning of a pilgrimage that remains timeless till today.
About Sagar Island
- Sagar Island is an island in the Ganges delta, lying on the Continental Shelf of Bay of Bengal about 100 km (54 nautical miles) south of Kolkata.
- This island forms the Sagar CD Block in the Kakdwip subdivision of South 24 Parganas district in the Indian State of West Bengal.
- Although Sagar Island is a part of the Sundarbans, it does not have any tiger habitation or mangrove forests or small river tributaries as is characteristic of the overall Sundarban delta.
- This island is a place of Hindu pilgrimage.
- Every year on the day of Makar Sankranti (14 January), hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers (puja) in the Kapil Muni Temple.
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