DHAKA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The first phase of the second largest annual Muslim congregation called Biswa Ijtema after holy Hajj began Friday in Tongi on the outskirts of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Braving winter cold and dense fog, devotees from far and wide of the country on Friday morning gathered at the Ijtema ground.
Buses, trains and all other modes of transport are carrying hundreds of thousands of people to Tongi now.
The grand prayer at the congregation at Tongi will be held on Sunday, seeking divine blessings and welfare of all mankind.
The second phase of the Biswa Ijtema, which is being held in two phases since 2011 to avoid rush of pilgrims, will begin on the same venue on Jan. 17 and it will conclude with the offering of Akheri Munajat (concluding prayer) on Jan. 19.
Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that stringent security measures have been taken ahead of the Bishwa Ijtema.
Control rooms, watch towers and close circuit cameras have been installed to avert any untoward incidents there to oversee people's movement.
To ensure safety and security of the devotees and maintain law and order, thousands of different law-enforcing agencies have been deployed in and around the 60-hectare Ijtema ground, the main venue of the congregation.
Organizers say standby airport transport service has been arranged for devotees expected from at least 27 countries.