By Staff Writers
Dehradun, India (AFP) Jan 12, 2010
Hundreds of ash-covered, naked holy men and millions of Hindu pilgrims are making their way to northern India to take part in one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth. …
The Mela marks the only public gathering of the Nagas, many of whom live in remote, spartan conditions in mountains, caves and communes in the Himalayas and other regions of India.
The highest ranked among them will ride in chariots decorated with marigolds and pulled by tractors, while others follow behind, carrying swords, tridents and saffron flags.
Naked and generally covered in a layer of grey ash, they are regarded by devotees as earthly representatives of the gods because of their self-sacrifice and denial of the material world.
Their isolation does not, however, prevent their organising for particular causes and they plan to use the 2010 Kumbh Mela to highlight the issue of global warming.
"Sadhus like us who go up to the higher reaches of the Himalayas to meditate have a clear picture of how bad the situation is," Soham Baba, considered as the head of the Nagas, told reporters recently in Kolkata.
"Pristine lakes and waterfalls that existed till a few years ago have dried up," he said.
"The Kumbh Mela will be the appropriate place to protest," he added. …