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Rajim Maghi Punni Mela, 2023: Chhattisgarh’s largest devotional congregation, the touchstone of Security, Surveillance & Crowd Management


The Rajim Maghi Punni Mela, the annual devotional fair at the holy confluence of rivers Mahanadi (Chitrotpala), Pairi and Sondur, called Triveni Sangam at Rajim, of Gariaband district. Rajim is also known as the “Prayag” of Chhattisgarh. This fair is the largest religious and spiritual mass gathering  of the state . This annual fair remains a source of fascination for vast numbers of people, throughout the state. Saints, seers, photographers, small vendors, tourists and common devotees flock here in huge numbers to partake in their respective roles at this event every year.

This year’s Rajim Maghi Punni Mela started on 5th February on Maghi Purnima, the full moon day of Hindu Lunar Month of Margashirsha at the Prayagraj Triveni Sangam, Rajim and lasted for 14 days to finally get concluded on 18th February on the Mahashivaratri. Thousands of devotees took the holy dip known at the sangam for all 14 days. Throughout the Mela days the temples of Rajivlochan, kuleshwar-Mahadev, Dandaneshwar, Baba Garibnath, Lomash Rishi Ashram remained the significant spots of worship. Grand Mahanadi Aarti was also performed during the fair, making it no less than the legendary ghats of Varanasi.

The concerned departments and the Gariyaband District administration on the instructions of Collector IAS Prabhat Malik had completed the preparations for the fair beforehand. All the approach-roads to the Mela sites were thoroughly repaired and new roads were constructed besides the and roads to connect the Mela site.

Arrangements were made for Pipelines and tap connections for drinking water at multiple locations, along with the surplus light-poles and high-mast lights to illuminate the prime locations and all three bridges at the Sangam at night. Multiple  healthcare stalls were set-up at the fair site, wherein specialist doctors and paramedical staff were deployed to administer the health-care of pilgrims round the clock. Ambulance and 108 Sanjeevani services were also made available in case of advanced medical emergencies.

Speaking about the planning approach for conducting Rajim mela, DIstrict Collector IAS Prabhat Malik told that it is not an easy task to control such a huge crowd as several risk factors and difficulties such as lack of clarity in the number of expected pilgrims, crowd psychology and its behaviour pattern remain the key management challenges which needs to be mitigated by the administration and other stakeholders in crowd management. Therefore, besides making safety and facilitative arrangements like new roads, mela camps, live broadcast, 24-hour CCTV surveillance, and other facilities like health camps and mobile toilets fitted with chemical waste management system, we tried to create a multi-faceted organised framework with the help of all the departments to enhance user experience by trying best to cover all the aspects of crowd management and strategies for security and surveillance during mass gathering events.

It is not only a religious gathering but the state government also utilised the event to enlighten people about the welfare scheme run by various departments by installing information stalls at the site.

Such huge gatherings are nothing new for India, but the challenge of Crowd management and the strategy for Security, surveillance and cleanliness plays a decisive role in the success or failure of such an event. However, the Gariyaband district Administration in the Rajim Maghi Punni Mela, 2023 has set a new benchmark of immaculate planning and management by making this humongous religious gathering grandly successful and incidence free.

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