GUWAHATI, June 23 - Expecting a record number of visitors this year, the second day of the Ambubachi Mela was an awe-inspiring sight today with a sea of humanity thronging the temple and a devotional ambience prevailing atop the Nilachal Hills.
Despite smart showers this morning, the number of devotees was considerably high compared to Wednesday. With sanitation and security being the priorities of the administration, extra efforts were put in to keep the temple premises clean and ensure hassle-free movement of the devotees.
�We expect that the number of devotees would be more than two lakh today. Since early morning people have been lining up for visiting the temple and the rush usually increases in the evening with the local people of Guwahati and adjacent areas joining the visitors who have come from different corners of the country and abroad,� said the Bor Doloi of Kamakhya Devalaya Kabindra Sarma.
A large number of devotees choose to walk up to the temple from the foothills and though the ASTC bus services were stopped in the afternoon, there was no decline in the number of tourists.
�The arrangements so far have been satisfactory, despite the rush, and no major issue has been reported. To accommodate extra devotees, two camps have been set up on Nilachal Hills, other than the small arrangements done by the temple authorities at our level. Maintaining cleanliness and preserving the sanctity of the temple premises is our priority,� Sarma added.
Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi attended the Ambubachi Mela today. Gogoi said that over the years the popularity of the festival has increased with maximum number of devotees coming to this part of the country seeking the blessings of the Mother Goddess.
�Since past four-five years, massive arrangements are being made for the convenience of the devotees, with more facilities for their comfortable pilgrimage,� he added.
Meanwhile, the official website of the Kamakhya Devalaya administration was inaugurated today. The website www.makamakhyadevalaya.org will contain all the relevant information related to the shrine for convenience of the devotees and tourists.
Since the doors of the Kamakhya Temple remain closed for four days, the devotees perform a circumambulation (pradakshina) of the temple and light earthen lamps and incense sticks. On the other hand, sadhus and sadhvis coming from different parts of the country spend maximum time meditating, as Kamakhya is considered the most important seat for learning tantra and Shaktism.
Sadhus with their peculiar get-up, hairdos and antics, are another major source of attraction at the temple. Many sadhus were seen decked out like Shiva, Kaali and Lakshmi and the devotees flocked to them to get their blessings as well as to present offerings. Dreadlocks several feet long, unusual methods of meditation and several other bizarre habits of the sadhus are other highlights of the Mela.
Kamrup Metro DC Dr M Angamuthu told The Assam Tribune that despite a quantum leap in the number of devotees, sufficient arrangements were in place to handle the rush smoothly. �The crowd is huge compared to previous years, but the facilities have also improved. For cleanliness also, 600 GMC workers along with 400 other volunteers are working hard to keep the temple and its vicinity cleaner,� he added.