A controversy erupted on the first day of Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain on Friday after members of the all-women Akhara – Pari Akhara – were not allowed to take part in shahi snan or royal holy dip at Ramghat, considered the most sacred of ghats at the month-long fair.
An upset Sadhvi Trikal Bhawanta, who founded the Akhara in 2000, went on an indefinite fast and was admitted to a hospital with low blood sugar levels.
“The administration has flouted the high court directives, which clearly stated all Akharas will be provided the same facilities,” said Sadhvi Bhawanta.
“This is an insult to women who are worshipped as Goddess Laxmi, Durga and Saraswati,” she told Hindustan Times.
“We are only asking for gender equality and demanding the same facilities that everyone else is getting,” she said, adding that she is adamant on observing her fast until her demands are met.
Earlier this month, the Pari Akhara wrote a letter to district collector Kavindra Kiyawat, seeking permission to take part in shahi snan at Ramghat. The administration, however, washed off its hands on the matter and instead directed the Pari Akhara to approach the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad.
The male-dominated Akhara Parishad has refused to recognize Pari Akhara and Kinnar (eunuch) Akhara. “Anyone can form an organization while sitting at home, there are only 13 recognized Akharas,” said parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri.
Meanwhile, the administration has worked out a compromise formula for members of Kinnar Akhara who took the holy dip at Gandharva Ghat, which has been reserved for them.
Rishi Ajay Das, a member of Kinnar Akhara, said that Gandharva Ghat was also part of Ramghat so they had no issue in taking a holy dip at the ghat on the bank of the Shipra River.