temple was a small excavation termed Sitakund, filled with fresh water, of which the
pilgrim was allowed to sip a small quantity, on paying a fee to the manager of the
temple. This reservoir was probably filled from the tank, and kept full by the
contrivances of the mendicants, who persuaded the people that it was a perpetual miracle,
being constantly full for the use of the temple."3
Wilson mentions that his information was that two lakhs of people attend the
mela. O'Malley mentions in the last District Gazetteer of 24-Pargnans that the number
attending the mela was from 30,000 to 50,000 people.
According to the present estimate, the number of pilgrims
annually attending the mela is not less than one lakh. Ganga Sagar mela has a
painful nostalgia. It is unfortunate that upon the end of the 18th century there were
suicides and the throwing away of the first-born babies at the confluence as a mark of
Prayaschitya (atonement for sin and invoking blessings for other progeny).
3 HamiltoH.W. Wilson, Essays on the Religion of the
Hindus, (1862, vol. II).