India 2013 Allahabad. Maha Kumbh Mela

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India. Uttar Pradesh state. Allahabad. Maha Kumbh Mela. Hindu holy men of the Juna Akhara sect participate in rituals that are believed to rid them of all ties in this life and dedicate themselves to serving God as "Naga" or naked holy men. Portrait of a Naga Sadhu at night in Sangam. The Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering is held every 12 years on the banks of the 'Sangam'- the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. The belief is that bathing and taking a holy dip will wash and free one from all the past sins, get salvation and paves the way for Moksha (meaning liberation from the cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth). In Hinduism, Sadhu (good; good man, holy man) denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments. They are renouncers who have chosen to live a life apart from or on the edges of society in order to focus on their own spiritual practice. The significance of nakedness is that they will not have any worldly ties to material belongings, even something as simple as clothes. This ritual that transforms selected holy men to Naga can only be done at the Kumbh festival. A Sadhu is usually referred to as Baba by common people. The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela, which comes after 12 Purna Kumbh Mela, or 144 years, is always held at Allahabad. Uttar Pradesh (abbreviated U.P.) is a state located in northern India. 6.02.13 © 2013 Didier Ruef