8:00 in the morning at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Sun has risen and people have bathed in the holy Sangam. Suddenly a big piece of the short is cleared to make room for a very special group of visitors coming to take a ritual dip: The naked naga sadhus!
First sight of the naga sadhus making their way towards the Sangam (confluence of the two rivers). As you can see they are not just called "naked", they literally are naked in most cases. For a quite socially conservative society such as the Indian one, it is interesting to see nudity being such an integral part of one of the most holy events in the country.
Exactly why these men appear naked at this event I do not know. But I can tell you that it is a sight out of the ordinary. In the picture above you can see how many there actually were of them. We were extremely lucky to get so close to them, as they were inside a closed enclosure. Only by befriending a couple of local police men did we manage to get in.
When the naked naga sadhus first came we were told to be very discreet with our cameras, since apparently sadhus can be both camera shy and exceptionally aggressive against people who photograph them. I don't know where this information came from, but it turned out nothing could be further from the truth. The naga sadhus were more than happy to pose for the cameras and in fact seemed to enjoy all the attention. Here is one naga (Susanna) with a lot of naked nagas. It is worth noting that the word "naga" in this context has nothing to do with Susanna's home state Nagaland.
A posing naga.
Not even did the sadhus readily pose: They even put on all sorts of acts for us. Here is one guy doing gymnastics.
And two of them wrestling each other.
And a third doing yoga.
A fourth jumping around like crazy.
And a fifth guy crowd surfing!
Not only do the naga sadhus - due to their special religious status - get away with walking around naked - something which would land anyone else in an Indian jail. They also get away with smoking what is presumably marijuana. It is done completely in the open.
And that is the "end" of this post.