CENTRE OF ATTRACTION
On Sunday, January 6, the 13 akharas of Hindu ascetics and sants announced their arrival at the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad with their traditional procession through the city. Joining them, despite being denied recognition by the Central Akhara Council, was the Kinnar Akhara, led by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, pictured here resplendent on a camel. According to reports, thousands of worshippers flocked to the akhara’s procession, easily the most popular on the day, to seek blessings. “We don’t need certification,” Tripathi told assembled reporters. “We are sanatani Hindus and demigods as per the shastras. We’re here despite efforts to keep us out.” This was their second such procession, after the hugely popular debut at the 2016 Ujjain Kumbh. Tripathi was in the forefront there too. A controversial figure within the community, she was recently taken to task by several selfdescribed “trans, gender nonconforming and intersex collectives” for expressing the akhara’s support for building the Ram temple in Ayodhya.