Hundreds of New Initiates to Hindu Holy order Perform Rituals on the Ganges

Hundreds of new initiates to Hindu holy order perform rituals on the Ganges
Photos chronicle the initiation of the mysterious ‘Naga Sadhus’, a  secretive Hindu sect
They undertake the ritual during Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of people on Earth
The rite involves being covered in ash and takes place on the shores of the Ganga river
These intriguing photos show newly-initiated ‘Naga Sadhus’ perform rituals on the bank of the Ganga, or Ganges, River in the city of Allahabad in Uttar Pridesh, India, earlier today.

They were taken during Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which the faithful gather at a sacred river for a bath. It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation; Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

It is the world’s largest gathering and around 80million people are expected to bathe in the river during the festival.

Revered: Newly initiated ‘Naga Sadhus’, Hindu holy men, perform rituals on the bank of the Ganga River during an Indian festival
The Naga Sadhus are highly secretive and have never divulged the details of their initiation processes
The men are taking part in the diksha, a ritual of initiation held by gurus, to become Naga Sadhus – holy men who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal.

There are an estimated five million sadhus in India today and they are widely respected for their holiness. It is also thought that the austere practices of the sadhus help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large.
There are many different types of Sadhus. Naga Sadhus are known for stripping naked and covering themselves in ash.

The Naga control the religious affairs at the world’s biggest gathering and have the right to remain naked. Naga is derived from the Sanskrit for naked, ‘nagna’.

The Kumbh Mela attracts Indians from all over the vast country,
 as well as Hindus from other nations

The festival is the largest gathering in the world and is held every three years. An estimated 80million people will bathe in the water throughout the event 
The ritual is ancient, but that doesn’t stop the zealots using modern technology to capture the event and make themselves heard
The Naga order is a highly secretive and closed group. Its initiation and rites are not made known to the public.

This year, for the first time ever, women from the Naga holy order have won the right to have their own separate camp at the Kumbh Mela.

Called the Juna Sannyasini Akhara, or the Juna Nuns’ Order, the women have their own symbolising, an anointed leader and a separate enclosure at the event.

Hinduism is the biggest religion of the Indian subcontinent, and includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Śrauta, among numerous other traditions. It is not so much a rigid set of beliefs but an amalgamation of practices, cultures and spiritual beliefs.

The holy men walk hand-in-hand to the river before the ceremony begins
Faith: The diksha, or ritual of initiation, attracts followers of all ages and backgrounds


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