Burial protest over gender equality at Kumbh Mela festival

Devotees of Indian Hindu Akhara leader Trikal Bhawanta shower her with rose petals as she is sat inside a deep hole in the ground, preparing to undergo a burial ritual on 26 April 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Followers dug a deep grave, before beginning to cover their leader with earth

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.

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.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Bhawanta's group was denied permission to bathe in the river Ganges during the festival's Shahi Snan - royal bath - purification ritual

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