Submitted by Rashmi on Thu, 2016-12-15 20:06 Bengaluru: Four devotees of Lord Aiyappa, who had kicked up a storm after they began worshipping in the nude at a village near Khalghatgi in Dharwad, reportedly halted the practice on Thursday evening following widespread criticism. The four, Anil Patil, Prakash, Gangaram and Manjunath, were performing nude worship for the past fifteen days under the guidance of the group leader, Ramesh Guruswamy.Sabarimala devotees are expected to follow a 41-day austerity period during which devotees follow a largely vegetarian diet, observe celibacy and shun liquor. However, this group’s deviation from the set norms of worship had angered many, especially, women.“This is our way of worshipping the Lord. Although this has not been practiced by anyone, we think through this form of worship we will be able to please the diety,” Ramesh told a news channel.“Aiyyappa devotees are expected to shun worldly pleasures and this is our way of achieving it,” he added.According to him, devotees will be in nude state for 41 days and on the 42nd day they will wear black or orange robes preferred by Aiyyappa devotees.However, this did not go down well with other Aiyyappa devotees.Veteran actor Shivaram, who has been a Sabarimala devotee for the past 48 years, ridiculed this form of worship. “This is absolutely disgusting. They are just wicked devotees. Worshipping Lord Aiyyappa is such a sacred ritual and this is the first that any devotee has done this,” he fumed. “Aiyyappa devotees are usually guided by their ‘Guruswamy’ a leader of the group and their ‘Guruswamy’ seems to have misguided them,” he observed.