Old blind sadhu seeking alms in safron orange lungi outside Agni (fire) Lingam (Siva) Pradacshina shrine Arunachala Tiruvannamalai South India
In Hinduism, a sādhu (Sanskrit: साधु sādhu, "good; good man, holy man") is a religious ascetic or holy person. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolising their sanyāsa (renunciation). This way of life is open to women; the female form of the word is sādhvī साध्वी. In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.
The ruggedness of the sadhu life deters many from following the sadhu path. Such practices as the obligatory early morning bath in the cold mountains require a detachment from common luxuries. After the bath, sadhus gather around the dhuni, or holy fireplace, and begin with their prayers and meditation for the day.
Some sadhus dispense cures to the local community, remove evil eyes or bless a marriage. They are a walking reminder to the average Hindu of Divinity. They are generally allowed free passage on the trains and are a close-knit organisation.
Kumbh Mela, a mass-gathering of sadhus from all parts of India, takes place every three years at one of four points along sacred rivers in India, including the holy River Ganges. In 2007 it was held in Nasik, Maharashtra. Peter Owen-Jones filmed one episode of "Extreme Pilgrim" there during this event. It took place again in Haridwar in 2010. Sadhus of all sects join in this reunion. Millions of non-sadhu pilgrims also attend the festivals, and the Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of human beings for a single religious purpose on the planet; the most recent Kumbh Mela started on 14 January 2013, at Allahabad. At the festival, sadhus are the "biggest crowd pullers",