As part of the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar in April, 2010, millions of Hindu pilgrims gathered as did sadhus, holy men, from all over India. There are numerous sects and branches within Hinduism the naga being among them. I was walking along one of the streets of Haridwar when I noticed some movement in the crowd ahead of me.
A naga sadhu, naked except for his sandals, body smeared with ashes was making his way along the street. I took several photos of what was a somewhat chaotic scene as the devout gathered around him seeking blessing. People, mostly women, were placing offerings at, and touching, his feet whilst a follower/attendant dutifully gathered up the offerings.
The sadhus lead an austere life based in part on meditation and, it must be said, the smoking of hashish. For a more comprehensive explanation of their role in the Kumbh Mela festival: “Sea of humanity in Haridwar”
The following slideshow contains a small selection of photos from this brief encounter. Please proceed with caution if nudity offends!