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Weeks after formation, women akhara runs into trouble

Omar Rashid
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Mahant Bhavanta atthe formation of theall-women akhara.
Mahant Bhavanta atthe formation of theall-women akhara.

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 snan s 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” akhara s 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.


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