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Female burial protest at India festival

BBC News BBC News 27/04/2016
A devotee of Indian Hindu Akhara leader Trikal Bhawanta uses a huge bowl to cover her with mud as she undergoes a "burial ritual" on 26 April 2016: The burial was never completed © AFP The burial was never completed

A female Hindu religious leader has staged a "burial" protest at India's Kumbh Mela festival after her all-woman group was denied permission to bathe in holy waters.

A devotee of Indian Hindu Akhara leader Trikal Bhawanta grapples with two police officials in a deep grave, alongside the seated Trikal Bhawanta, as she undergoes a "burial ritual" on 26 April 2016: Bhawanta's group was denied permission to bathe in the river Ganges during the festival's Shahi Snan - royal bath - purification ritual © AFP Bhawanta's group was denied permission to bathe in the river Ganges during the festival's Shahi Snan - royal bath - purification ritual

Trikal Bhawanta, founder of the Pari Akhara, wanted to take the waters at the world's largest religious festival.

India has 13 widely recognised "akhara" groups, all led by men, many of whom dispute her group's legitimacy.

Equality at Hindu religious sites is an increasingly contentious issue.

In Tuesday's protest, Ms Bhwanta sat in a deep grave dug by her group's female "sadhus", or holy women, while followers threw petals and dirt onto her, until police and local officials ended the protest.

Ms Bhwanta formed her akhara - a group of wandering sadhus who renounce normal life and are respected for their holiness - in 2000. It is thought to be the first such all-female group.

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