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Nirmalas - Kumbh Mela


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I was clearing up some old files on my computer and found these pictures - They aren't very clear - They were taken at The 1998 Kumbh Mela - Perhaps some of the Nirmala members of the forum recognise any faces ?- or can explain what is happening in the pics or what happens at the Kumbh - The Nirmala Akhara are the last to 'bathe' I believe ?? - any information greatly appreciated.

The Pics are from Dr. James G. Lochtefeld 's website ( Assoc. Prof. of Religion, Carthage College,Kenosha, WI ,USA)


(The Link worked last time I checked - sometimes it doesn't !)

Nirmalas at Kumbh Mela


* Picture from http://www.sewapanthi.org/

Nirmalas at Kumbh Mela 1998


Udasis at 1998 Kumbh Mela


Some bonus pictures !!!

Mahant AnantAnand of Udasin Akhara Amritsar - does the turban style, with 'Farla' like frill , have any significance ??


Aarti at Haridwar


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freed, you thief! That top one is not from the website but my own collection via sewapanthi.org. I was told you cannot copy and paste from the site so how did you get the photo? ridhsidh.

Nirmalay raise the nishan at every Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh. The stolen one at the top of the page is of the most recent at Ujjain last year. All the present big Nirmalay of Panchayti Akhara are there, Sri Mahant ji, etc. The photo of ganga arti at hari ki pauri is not of Nirmalay but the brahmin priests who perform it there at at all other ganga tiraths, like Kashi, Rishikesh, etc. The second photo down is interesting. If I'm not mistaken its of the Nirmal Ashram wale, i.e. Baba Ram Singh ji's lot.

I enclose an interesting article about just where the Nirmalay stay while at Nasik Kumbhs;

Ancient Mazaar plays host to sadhus in Ujjain

Sunetra Choudhary

Wednesday, April 14, 2004 (Ujjain):

Right wing groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad may be using the Simhastha Kumbh to fire up Hindutva issues like building the Ram Temple, but there are some instances of Hindu-Muslim harmony which are intrinsic to Ujjain.

For the past 50 years, the generations old Peer Jangli Baba Ka Mazaar has been hosting the Nirmal Akahara of sadhus.

In the spirit of harmony

The land where the Peer Jangli Baba ka Mazaar is situated belongs to Afrod Jaan and her family who host a group of over 100 sadhus.

The family looks after the visitors providing water and cleaning for them. The sadhus in turn give prasad to the family and pray at the mazaar.

"How does it matter? We are Muslims, they are Hindu, but we have the same blood flowing in our veins," said Afrid Jaan.

Making a difference

There's been only one instance of a Hindu-Muslim rift in the area and that was after the Babri Masjid demolition when some people tried to destroy the mazaar. But Afrod Jaan's family is not bitter as they believe the attack was done by a senseless mob.

The sadhus who have been coming here for the last four kumbhs say religion has nothing to do with it. All they were looking for was a serene and clean area and the mazaar was perfect.

"God is one and religion does not matter," said a Mahant of the Nirmal Akhara.

At a time when religion has begun to divide, the representatives of different faiths have continued to relate to each other. The sadhus get shelter while the family says they will get good karma by serving the holy men.

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Guest Maha_Pavitar

Tsingh veerji, just a note about copying images..a webmaster can disable copy picture/save picture as but it's quite easy to do a Print Screen and crop your photo in an imaging software, I would recommend putting watermarks too..but then again those who want something will remove those too..sigh..

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Dear tSingh Bhai Sahib,

Profound apologies !! -- I have checked and I am Guilty as charged - My only defence is that -- as you may have guessed from my picture posts - when I see a beautiful picture I have to have it , A slight compulsion of mine - I have had it since I was a kid - I have never been able and still can't get enough material on Sikhi - My shelves at home are groaning under the weight of books, clippings etc - much to my family's annoyance - I have hard drives full of pics I have " acquired" via 'RidhSidh' !!

I hope you will forgive an obssessed brother - I will remove the picture if you want me to - Sorry !

--- Thank you for the extra info -- I didn't know sewapanthi.org was run by you - great site , will you be updating it soon? I would love to read longer accounts of your trips to Turkey and Albania that you have written about on SA .

In your post the article mentioned the Nirmalas praying at the mazaar - do Nirmalas as a group attend any other 'urs' at mazaars - I was thinking of the Rauza Sharif of Sheikh Ahmed Farooqi, Mujadid Alif-saani at Sirhind - do they have any links like the historic links the Sewapanthis had/have ?

Once again apologies for being a tea leaf !!

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It's only a picture my freind, of which I have no ownership. It's a nice one though. And please keep collecting the photos, there are many fantastic ones you've posted to date. Sorry for sounding OTT, it just made me chuckle thats all.

The Albania thing - here is a link to the little article I wrote about that kindly posted on the best bektashi resource in english that I know of;


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Tsingh veerji, just a note about copying images..a webmaster can disable copy picture/save picture as but it's quite easy to do a Print Screen and crop your photo in an imaging software, I would recommend putting watermarks too..but then again those who want something will remove those too..sigh..

Waste of time trying to disable things.

In Internet Explorer click on file menu then save as and as file type select web page complete. IE will download the complete page including the pictures from the web site. This works even if you think you have disabled the ability to right click and save pictures.

I have just used this method and got all the pictures at http://www.sewapanthi.org/htmls/sewapanthi.html . Of cause this was only for research purposes and I have now deleted them off my HD.

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  • 8 months later...


to preach Hindus Gurmat. Even if Sikh be a sole homogenous Singh Sabha gruop as we see in many Gurudwaras.As human nature we do get some specailsations within one community.

Say one is good Langri or cook,one is good in adminstration of Gurudwara while other could be good in finacial mangement.someone will be good teacher while other will be good docters within the shools or hospitals run within Gurudwaras.

Some one is preacher other is ragi(singer) one is Dhadi(Bard) one is Tabla(a sort of intstrument player) player.Some one is good preacher or pracharak while other could be good Kathakar(explaniner) then we can have poets(Kawusharis).

So in that light just take Nirmalas(as speacailised preacher to Pandits and hennce whole hindu brotherhood),Udasis(Preachers ot Yogis) and Sevpanthis as preachers to Sufis and Muslims.Taksali can be one who train them in correct interpetation of Gurbani.

Das can say that AKJ could be new order to preach panth to protestant christians.

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It did, but I'll elaborate. The Kumbh Mela is the event where not only millions go to take ishnaan, but it is also when all the different samprdas in india set up camp and do prachaar. The Nirmalay, Udasis and once Sevapanthis attend, raise the nishaan, and do prachaar. It is equally a measure of the respect with which their learning is held that they have been given the honoured position to take part in the procession of all the akharas.

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Yes, in a sense. The Nirmalay are widely recognised as great scholars of sanskrit, who at the same time do prachaar of gurmat. Traditionally, the Ardh and Maha Kumbh Melas have been the forum for debate and prachaar, hence these samprdas attend for both. There have been numerous amazing examples of the changes made out of respect for the Nirmalay and their learning by brahmins/scholars. One astounding example is given by the late great Mahant Gurdip Singh Kesri of Sanskrit Vidyala in Kashi. His shish and present Mahant of the vidyala is a great mahapurukh who was very kind to this fool when I was with them a few years ago. At Nasik during the mid 18th century, when the Kumbh Mela was there the samprdas take ishnan at the tank called Triyambak going through the mandir. To enter the mandir one must have a bare head and wear only one unstitched piece of cloth. Yet obvisouly the Nirmalay had dastaars and kacheras on. The Brahmin priests also charged them with rejecting the caste system (varnashram dharma) and refused them entry. One Nirmala Pandit Diwan Singh Thikirivale successfully defeated the brahmin priests about the caste system (no doubt using arguments from Gurmat and Upanishads about the nature of self), and gained such respect for their learning that the priests have changed ancient tradition to allow Nirmalay to enter still wearing dastaars and kacheras. Looking through itihas of our Guru Sahiban they likewise visited tiraths for the sake of prachaar (Guru Tegh Bahadur's visits to Gaya, and Triveni mentioned in Bachittar Natak spring to mind).

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I'm not sure. I posted an image on here from Ujjain Kumbh Mela recently with two Nihang Babay in the background. I'm not sure if they set up a chauni at the mela. Obviously any student here could ask Nidhar Singh ji on this one. However, I presume that generally since Nihang babay were never into prachaar there would be no need. There have been no safety issues since the incident in which the dals retaliated against the vairagis when they attacked the Udasi camp back at the end of the 18th century.

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First Master did visit Mecca and Haridwar also for similar purpose.

Das would like to add that in past Budhadal use to visit Kumbh but perhaps i stopped after a riot in which Sikhs and Naga Sages both died.

Correct das Brother tSingh Ji if das is wrong.

I remember reading about a mela where the Sikhs ran riot - it was in Sicques, Tigers or Thieves. Not sure if it was the Kubh Mela, and although the Sikhs were described as Nihangs, Niddar Singh thought that it was more likely that they were actually part of M. Ranjit Singh's army (on account that Nihang history does not mention this event)

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