GUWAHATI, June 22 � Doors of the Kamakhya temple were closed down this afternoon with the majestic Ambubachi Mela getting under way atop the Nilachal Hills. Despite the drizzle falling throughout the day, a sizeable number of people jostled in the queues to have a glimpse of the Mother Goddess before the doors were shut down at 3 pm.
The festival is associated with worshipping of fertility and considered as the biggest and most powerful ritual for the people of shakti and tantrik cults. Legend has it that Goddess Kamakhya menstruates during this period, and hence the doors of all the temples of the State are closed down for four days and no worshipping or darshan is allowed during this period.
According to the government estimates, more than four lakh devotees visited the temple last year and the initial flow of devotees this year suggests that the numbers could cross six lakh this time.
Though the main rituals continue for four days, the Ambubachi Mela on the hill has started a week back and would continue for another week. While it is an occasion for religious tourism for tourists from across the country and abroad, the devotees throng the temple for kirtan, chanting and meditation. Other than common people, Kamakhya is teeming with sadhus, sadhvis and tantriks, who are engrossed in deep meditation seeking the blessings of the Mother Goddess.
�Today�s ritual was held in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at 6.37 pm and nibriti, which is the completion of the ritual, would be held around 7.01 pm in the evening of June 25. For common people, the temple would be opened from the morning on June 26,� said Naba Sarma, secretary of the Kamakhya Debuttar Board.
Meanwhile, the devotees staying in several camps at places like Maligaon, Pandu, Naharbari, Bharalumukh, etc, are facing problems due to rainfall. Some devotees are also visiting other temples like Umananda, Basistha, Sukleswar, etc. The administration is also having a tough time handling the rush of people, with the weather complicating the situation. While some devotees complained about the unavailability of potable water, some others demanded that the security arrangements should be tighter in view of the untoward incidents at other religious places of the country.
Cleanliness on the Kamakhya temple premises is a major issue concerning the people. The huge religious congregation always leaves the hill in a shambles. Several NGOs had appealed to the government to depute additional manpower for disposing the garbage generated during the festival, to avoid health risks to the devotees and people living in the area, as well as to maintain the sanctity of the temple.