Kumbh Mela: Newly initiated Naga Sadhus perform rituals

Written by: Anurag Sason
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Allahabad, Feb 4: Sadhus of the Juna Akhara took part in Diksha, a ritual to become a Naga Sadhu, on the banks of the river Ganges. Diksha was taken during the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela which began here on Jan 14.

More than 2, 000 monks participated in the ritual, which was performed away from the public eye without any disturbance. The ritual for new members takes place during every Kumbh Mela. The Naga order is a highly secretive group and their initiation or Diksha ceremony is not made known to the public.

Diksha is a ritual of initiation held by gurus to become a Naga Sadhu. It is given in a one-to-one ceremony. In Jainism, Diksha is also known as "Charitra" or "Mahanibhiskraman."

Naga Sadhus, an order of Hindu-Shaivite ascetics, are known for stripping naked and covering their body in ashes with matted hair worn as thick dreadlocks, and Jata.

Naga Sadhus at Kumbh Mela

Women from the Naga holy order have got their own camp at the Mela for the first time. These women are called as the Juna Sanyasini Akhara, or the Juna Nuns' Order. They have their own anointed leader and a separate space at the Mela.

Maha Kumbh Mela is the world's biggest religious gathering. It occurs every 12 years at four places - Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik- and it alternates between these places every three years. This time, lakhs of pilgrims have been congregating in Allahabad ever since Makar Sankranti.

The next Maha Kumbh Mela is scheduled to take place on the banks of the river Shipra in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh in 2016.

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