Shri Panchyati Akhara Naya Udaseen is the only Akhara that ordains children as Naga Sadhus before the age of 14. Children not immediately ordained as Naga Sadhus – they are allowed to live with their Gurus so they can get first hand information about a life of Naga Sadhu. The children can then decide to stay or return home. After the children are ordained as nagas, they are given proper education, be it in traditional Vedic or Sanskrit schools or modern schools run by the akhara.
Hundreds of children aspiring to become naga sadhus will be ordained Bal Naga Sadhus of Shri Panchyati Akhara Naya Udaseen in the Kumbh Mela. The centuries-old tradition also gives ordained kids important designations such as mahant, kothari, and bhandari.
The training of these teenaged naga sadhus begins under the watchful eyes of their revered guru. By the time they become adults, they are adept at handling these roles efficiently. Currently, there are over 350 child naga sadhus in the akhara.
The history of Sri Panchayati Akhara Naya Udaseen dates back to the days of Lord Srichand, who was the eldest son of Guru Nanak Dev. The ordination ceremony is conducted in secret and is witnessed by hundreds of other child naga sadhus who were ordained in earlier Kumbhs.
Unlike adult naga sadhus, who renounce clothes completely, these children are allowed to cover their body with a small piece of loincloth called langot and a smaller version of shawl.
Called Tangtodas after their ordination, these children can remain in this state for 12 years, 24 years or for life. “The ones who take the vow to lead the tough life of a naga sadhu for life are called Akhand Bhabhuti. After the children are ordained as nagas, they are given proper education, be it in traditional Vedic or Sanskrit schools or modern schools run by the akhara. They are given full freedom to choose their role in the akhara. They are not bound to any rigid role,” says mukhiya (head) Mahant Dharamdasji, one of the four ‘Jakhira’ prabandhaks of the akhara.