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Thousands Convert to Naked, Cannabis-Consuming Religious Sect at Hindu Festival

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This week, hundreds of millions of faithful Hindus have travelled to the confluence of three holy rivers to bathe. At this event, thousands are initiated into the Naga Sadhus—a sect of naked, cannabis consuming, ash-covered holy warriors.

New converts are found at every Kumbh Mela — a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which the faithful gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river. Occurring regularly at a given location every 12 years, the events are considered one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, with 150 million expected to attend. It is believed that the ritual cleanses the bather of their sins, and ends the process of repeated reincarnation.

At the event, thousands of Hindu devotees were initiated into the Naga Sadhu sect, a group of formerly militant monks known for their lack of clothing and cannabis consumption. The one-time defenders of the faith have lived as ascetics in jungles and caves for centuries.

The elaborate process for initiation is performed by senior priests, and is comprised of five rituals, including shaving of one’s head and beard, offering of saffron robes, wearing prayer beads, giving up their clothing and applying ash to their bodies.

After being ordained, the new converts must remain partially or fully naked for the rest of their lives, eat just one meal a day, and sleep on the ground.

But, hey, at least they have weed.

h/​t Associated Press

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