21 January 2019: UPSC Exam PIB Summary & Analysis

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Kinnar Akhara, New Feature at Prayagraj Kumbh

Context: the Kinnar Akhada, became the first transgender group to bathe at the confluence of the holy Ganges and the Yamuna rivers on the first day of the ancient festival, traditionally reserved for reclusive Hindu priests, almost all of whom are men.

Juna Akhara is an oldest traditional powerful Akhara of Sanyasi saints and seers has given the recognition to Kinnar Akhara and has allowed to be part of Shahi Snan procession.

About Kinnar Akhara:

Kinnar Akhara, a group of transgender saints pursuing religious activities.

About Akharas:

  • An akhara means a traditional Indian gymnasium associated with wrestling. It also means a place for exercising the mind, as there is no clear division between body and mind in Hindu philosophy
  • The akhara members, the babas, are aligned to various schools of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism. There are Sikh akharas too.
  • The akharas are either astradharis (those who bear weapons) or shastradharis (those who bear scriptures).
  • It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya established these akharas over 1,000 years ago to defend Hinduism.

 About Kumbha Mela:

  • It is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river.
  • The Kumbh Mela is held once every three years at four locations in India – Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain – which means each location hosts it roughly once in 12 years.
  • The venue is decided based on planetary movements.
  • It is believed that the event marks the time when the river waters gain the power of amrita, the nectar of immortality, churned by devas (celestial forces) and asuras (subterranean forces) from the ocean of milk.

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