Godavari: “Aarti (Harati) is a token of expressing our respect and gratitude to the rivers. Be it Ganga or Godavari, we must pay our tributes in the form of offering Aarti without fail,” says Sabhapathi Umashankar Bharati, head of a 12-member group of ‘Sadhus’ arrived here from Benaras and Nasik to participate in the ‘Godavari Maha Pushkaralu-2015.’
The aghoras are fearsome monks believed to have mastered supernatural powers through ‘Sav sadhana’ (Meditation using human corpse) are feared as well as revered in India.
Of the 12 Sadhus, six are ‘Aghoras’ who sport in saffron robes and the remaining six are ‘Naga Sadhus,’ who prefer to stay nude by smearing ‘Vibhoothi’ (holy ash) to their body. The age old PSTN Club building on the banks of the Vasishta turned into the temporary abode for the Sadhus group. The building is being guarded by six personnel round the clock.
The Sadhus are making public appearance only twice a day – before the sunrise for a holy dip and after the sunset to perform ‘Godavari Harathi.’ Additional security forces are being deputed to guard the Sadhus on the two occasions, as stampede-like situation is prevailing in the vicinity with people competing with each other to have a close glimpse of the saints, who are quite foreigners for them.
“We have travelled for 36 hours to reach here from Nasik in three cars. Though the journey is quite tedious, we are happy that we are participating in a ‘Kumbh Mela’ like festival here,” says the 64-year-old Aghora Sadhu, while sipping tea that was made for him specially. “We have been to all the religious events to pray Eeswar Bhagavan seeking peace,” he says.
Sthapati Mahanth Som Varanad Saraswathi, a Naga Sadhu from Nasik, says nudity is their lifestyle. “People here are seeking our blessings,” he says, while playing ‘Damaru’ (a small drum).