Kumbh Mela: Engineers to management grads across faiths, 10K sign up to turn Naga sadhus
They will be monitored for some years to ascertain whether they joined for genuine reasons or took the step to dodge a personal crisis. When they pass all the tests, they are pronounced as Naga sadhus
What is a Kumbh Mela without the Naga sadhus? The latest edition saw the initiation of 10,000 young men into the fold.
Surprisingly, a large number of these trainee sadhus were engineering and management graduates, according to a report. They got their heads tonsured and performed their own last rites. After fire worship all night, according to ancient traditions, they were accepted into the clan.
Rajat Kumar Rai, 27, says he has a diploma in Marine Engineering from Kutch. He used to earn a decent salary but decided to become a Naga sadhu after renouncing worldly norms. Along with him, 29-year-old Shambhu Giri, a management graduate from Ukraine, and 18-year-old Ghanshyam Giri, a Class 12 topper from Ujjain, turned up to become a Naga.
The newly inducted sanyasis took a dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya. The All India Akhara Parishad (ABAP), an organization of Hindu saints and sadhus, facilitated their entry.
Mahuna Hari Giri, Chief Secretary of Juna Akhara and General Secretary of ABAP, says that the initiation ceremony happens only during the Kumbh. Each time, thousands show up to join the akhada, he added.
When he was asked for the grounds on which they were selected, he said that whatever the caste, religion and colour might be of a person, only those who have a strong desire for 'vairāgya' (denouncement of the world and its norms) are capable of becoming a Naga sadhu.
Many from Muslim, Christian and other faiths have also been accepted into the clan, he said.
He said the new inductees are monitored for some years to ascertain whether they joined for genuine reasons or took the step to dodge a personal crisis. When they pass all the examinations and satisfy us, they are pronounced as Nagas, he said.
Giri says he realised his goal after passing the board exams. Two years ago, at the age of 16, he went to the ashram of his guru Mahant Jairam Giri to receive his blessings, before coming to the Kumbh to be initiated.