Just weeks after a group of women sadhus broke away from tradition and formed a new all-women akhara in Allahabad with hopes of ending “male domination” of spiritual practices, the move has run into rough weather.
Some prominent seers have objected to the all-women akhara and threatened to ban its participation in the Kumbh Mela. The all-women akhara, probably the first of its kind in the 858-year history of akharas, has said it would participate in the Kumbh under its own flag.
Swami Narayan Giri of the Niranjani akhara in Allahabad opposed the creation of the all-women akhara saying that it went against ‘parampara’ (tradition) and those trying to create a new akhara were only trying to “grab media attention.”
He described the latest move as “irrelevant.” The members of the akhara would not be allowed to perform snans at the Kumbh Mela, he said.
The existing akharas are likely to urge the State not to accept the registration of the all-women akhara. They also rubbished the claim by the new akhara that women were not given rights in the traditional akharas — sadhvis had been elevated to the post of Mahamandaleshwars on many occasions.
Mahant Trikala Bhavanta, head of the newly floated all-women akhara, said the “male-dominated” akharas had no right to stop or force them. “They are not our custodians. What are they contributing towards women’s development? If they ban our participation [in the Kumbh], we will defend ourselves accordingly and find a solution,” she said. More than 5,000 women had already joined her unit, she claimed.