The 2000-year-old 'weapons of peace' of the secretive Naga sadhus have been brought out for the Kumbh Mela this year, offering pilgrims and visitors a rare sighting.
Weapons of sadhus at Juna Akhara’s camp. Itisha Dwivedi/HT photo
The trishuls, bhalas, farsas, chimtas, swords, bows and arrows - cherished possessions of the Juna Akhara - are brought to Prayag (Allahabad) only once in 12 years, at the time of the Kumbh.
This year, the weapons have been consecrated at four places in the Juna Akhara camp.
Barring a few priests of the akhara, no one is allowed to touch the weapons or even come close.
"Both the dharm-dhwaja (high-mast flag) and the weapons are symbols of peace and security. It means first we will try to win over our enemies with love and knowledge, but if they become violent, we will take up weapons to conquer them," said Ashtkaushal Mahant Hareramgiriji Maharaj, a senior member of the Juna Akhara.
"They are not symbols of violence. They are so sacred that we do not take them out during peshwai (formal entry of akhara in Kumbh Mela) because their tips should not touch the ground," he added.