Nashik Kumbh Mela hit by conflict between rival sects

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2015 16:27 IST

The Kumbh Mela, scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, is caught in a conflict after the ascetics of the Vaishnava sect decided to boycott the flag hoisting ceremony, and proposed to hold a separate one, the Indian Express has reported.

The dhwajarohan or the flag hoisting ceremony, which is being organised by a body of local priests the Purohit Sangh, will be held at the Ramkund reservoir in Nashik and the Kushavrat reservoir in Trimbakeshwar and marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela -- scheduled to take place from July 14 to September 25 .

The flag, which is 15 feet by 4 feet, will be mounted on a special brass flagpole early on Tuesday.

While the sadhus of Trimbakeshwar, who are Shaivites, have agreed to take part in Tuesday’s flag hoisting ceremony, those of the Vaishnava sect in Nashik say they will have their own on August 14, the report said.

“The Akhada Parishad has nothing to do with the dhwajarohan that will take place on July 14. We will have our independent flag hoisting programme in August,” Mahant Gyandas Maharaj, president of the Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad, was quoted as saying by the daily.

According to the Express, officials of the Purohit Sangh had sent two invitations to the Akhada Parishad and say it is now up to the sadhus to decide whether they want to be a part of Tuesday’s function, in which Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and central ministers are expected to take part.

Officials say the conflict between the sadhus, local priests and the administration stems from an attempt to secure more importance, the report said. This clash, however, has a long history, the report added.

“A bloody conflict in 1790 between sadhus of the Vaishnava and Shaivite sects over who would have the right of taking the first holy dip claimed the lives of 12,000 ascetics. This bloodbath had forced Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao to limit Vaishnavs to take the Kumbh dip in Nashik while Shaivaites were limited to the distant village of Trimbakeshwar.”

At least three lakh sadhus are expected to visit Nashik and Trimbakeshwar especially on the six days of the shahi snan. The three days in Nashik are on August 29 and September 13 and 18 and those in Trimbakeshwar are on August 29 and September 13 and 25.

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