While visiting India or Nepal you will not miss to notice these unusual looking men wandering around. They can be seen in cities and villages, in forests and on the bank of rivers. They are attached to a temple, live as hermits or move constantly from one place to another. Many of them go around naked or almost naked or wear orange clothes. These are sadhus - men who chose to renounce themselves from social life, work, wealth, family in order to follow a spiritual path that would allow them to eventually become free from the cycle of death and rebirth.
They carry all their possessions with them: a bowl, a staff, a blanket. Depending on their beliefs they meditate, engage in ascetic practices, preach or chant humns. Some have taken vows of silence. They believe that this way they can achieve superhuman strenght or attain a divine state.
Worshippers of Shiva cover their bodies with ashes and usually have three horizontal lines drawn across their foreheads. Many followers of Vishnu have a U-shaped mark, a reference to Vishnu's footprint. Some sadhu shave their heads, others wear hair piled up or loose and dressed with cows' urine and ashes.
Some people touch the ground sadhus walk on; others fear their glare and some just banish them when they seek alms.
In places of tourist attraction though you can meet some fake sadhus. These people just dress themselves up the sadhu way and draw attention of the curious tourists for the sole of earning some money. They have houses and families and "being sadhu" is just their kind of job. You can recognise them by too much make up and decorations and by their too eager wish to be photographed. Anyway they do look very colourful and exotic (see below).