Haridwar - Camp

Lakshmi Niwas is a tented camp on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges). The river is a goddess in Hindu belief. Lakshmi built the camp to be near the Haridwar Kumb Melah. Every 12 years there is a full Kumb and every 6 intervening years, a half Kumb. Sadhus who normally live in caves in the foothills of the Himalayas come together to celebrate and especially to run into the Ganga on certain auspicious days.

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Haridwar - Camp - Sunrise
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Haridwar - Ganga
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Haridwar - Sadhu Bathing in the Ganga
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Haridwar - Sadhu's Hut

The Sadhus are intensely spiritual people who have given up all material things and attachments to their birth family and friends. The camp looks a bit like the set for MASH, several khaki tents  are set up overlooking the River. There a few permanent concrete buildings in one of which the Guru lives. There is also a wooden hut in which the Sadhus spend most of their time. These Sadhus come to gather as the Giri ‘Family’. They keep a fire permanently lit in the hut, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Much time is spent smoking copious amounts of bangh.

They are all remarkably friendly and often highly educated, with very good spoken english.

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Haridwar - Ash Covered Sadhu

This remarkable Sadhu showers every morning and then, extremely carefully reapplies the coating of ash which serves as a protective layer against cold.

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Haridwar - Eternal Flame

In the evening the Sadhus celebrate Aaarti with music, flames and prayer. Uma rings the bell loudly and insistently, with everyonte clapping. In the small hut next to the sacred banyan tree, the eternal flame is maintained.

There is also a strange machine which mechanically beats a drum, rings belles and hits symbols. These can be found in many temples.

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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu

This Sadhu was once a lawyer. He became a Sannyasin (someone who gives up all possessions and family)  24 years ago. since then, he has never cut his hair, normally wearing it wound like a turban. When let down, it stretches almost to the ground (see next image).

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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Sadhu
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Haridwar - Guru

Sannyasa is the stage of renunciation within the Hindu philosophy. This asceticism stems from renunciation of material desires and prejudices. The purpose is to spend ones life in a peaceful, loving and spiritual life. Normally this stage of life is reached after the first three stages of life: bachelor student, householder and retired person. Young bachelor students can skip the next two stages and go straight to the renunciation of worldly pursuits otherwise know as Moksha.

On the way to becoming a Sannysasa, white is worn, then saffron yellow is adopted, which is the point of no return .

This Guru is the head of the Giri family of Sannyasas who are also his disciples. Gurus observe their disciples, not awarding the status of Sannyasa immediately. Normally, the process takes a minimum of 12 years. Some of the Sannyasa in our photos have lived in this state for over 30 years.

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Haridwar - Lakshmi
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Haridwar - Gita
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Haridwar - With the Sadhus and Guru
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Haridwar - Sadhus walking

Thousands of Sadhus are attracted to Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela. As they have no money or possessions, the town ensures there is a free evening  meal for them. Special trains are laid on for everyone at 33 Rupees (normal fare 1400 Rupees) but they journey lasts 14 hours instead of 4.

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