Haridwar, July 18 : Security has been beefed up in Haridwar ahead of the 'Monsoon Festival' during which thousands of pilgrims set out to carry water from the river Ganges to offer it to temples of the God Shiva.
Security personnel have been deployed and armed men with sniffer dog's are doing rounds ahead of the festival.
According to the district administration, a large number of pilgrims are coming here from all parts of the country.
"This is one of the biggest festival of the region, we are expecting around 6.5-7 million kawariyas (Devotees) this year. We have our intelligence team in place to inform us about anything suspicious, bomb disposal squads, drug squads would be there," said Aseem Srivastava, Superintendent of Police (SP).
"The entire state has been divided into four super zones, 16 zones and 66 sectors, to manage the event properly," he added.
The devotees said that security threats cannot discourage them from undertaking the annual pilgrimage.
Chanting "Bol Bam" and "Har Har Mahadev", (Hail Lord Shiva), they carry the vessels containing the "holy water" on their shoulders.
"We believe that our sins would be washed away during this festival. The legend dates back to the time when Shrawan Kumar (who carried his parents on his shoulders the way we carry water). Rest, there might be threats to security but that cannot stop us from taking part in this festival," said Surjeet Singh, a devotee.
Long queues of devotees of Lord Shiva can be seen at Har Ki Pauri, the main bathing ghat of the Ganges in Haridwar these days, to collect the holy water and proceed on their journey.
It is believed that by taking a dip in the holy river and offering prayers on its banks during the Shravan month would cleanse them of their sins.