GUWAHATI, June 17 - Fraudsters pretending to be priests of the Kamakhya Temple, have now become a cause of concern for the management committee of the world-famous Shakti shrine.
These fraudsters, mainly based in New Delhi, collect money from unsuspecting devotees for offering prayers on their behalf at Kamakhya and to provide the shrine�s holy prasad and rakta bastra.
�It has been noticed that for the last few years, some fraudsters pretending to be priests of Kamakhya are running fake websites, Facebook pages, online shopping companies, etc., and collecting money from devotees. As such, we request everyone to check their authenticity and local addresses,� office-bearers of the Kamakhya Devalaya Management Committee said at a press conference here on Wednesday.
Bhupesh Sarma, a priest of the temple informed that the fraudsters have been active for the past three years and the temple management committee has already intimated the police about the matter a number of times.
�Even the Crime Branch of Guwahati police has investigated the matter and made some arrests. But a section of such fraudsters are still active and operating their business through online media,� Sarma said.
Notably, for the first time in the history of the Ambubachi Mela (Mahayog), no devotee, sadhu or sanyasi will be allowed to enter the Kamakhya Temple or its nearby places during June 22-26, the period when the religious event is held every year. The temple management committee has taken the decision in view of the ongoing pandemic.
Already, the committee had restricted entry of all types of devotees into the temple premises from March 20 as a precautionary measure to prevent COVID-19 infection in the Nilachal Hill. The restriction will be in force till June 30 and the committee will take its further decision by studying the prevailing situation.
Unfortunately, the restriction on the Ambubachi Mela will be a severe loss for the State, especially for its tourism sector, as the annual religious event has been gaining popularity across the globe. Last year, the festival recorded a footfall of around 20 lakh pilgrims.
The average daily footfall of devotees at the Kamakhya Temple hovers around 10,000. But on Sundays, the footfall goes up to around 20,000. Among them, some devotees purchase special passes from the management committee to avoid the long queues.
A member of the temple management committee said that a special pass costs Rs 500 and on an average around 300 such passes are sold every day. This time though, the temple has suffered a huge revenue loss due to the ongoing situation.