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, the world's largest religious gathering, which began on Jan. 14 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.
More than 2, 000 monks participated in the ritual on Wednesday, 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.
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 gatherings. It began on Jan. 14, on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti in Allahabad. It occurs every 12 years at four places - Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik- and it alternates between these places every three years.
The next Maha Kumbh Mela is scheduled to take place on the banks of the river Shipra in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh in the year 2016.
Check out the pictures of newly-initiated Naga Sadhus here: