The four-day annual Ambubachi Mela began on Wednesday in the Kamakhya Temple here with several lakh pilgrims already arriving from different parts of the country. The authorities are expecting over 25 lakh pilgrims in the next four days.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who has been personally supervising the preparations said the government has put in maximum efforts to ensure that the Mela passes off peacefully. “Safety and security of the pilgrims is our topmost priority. We are also trying to ensure 100 per cent sanitation in the temple township during the next one week,” Sonowal said.
The BJP-led government, which has launched a massive campaign to attract a record number of pilgrims and visitors to the Mela, has set up five large camps apart from several temporary shelters in the Nilachal foothills. “We are expecting over 25 lakh footfalls, and thus have drawn up a foolproof plan to help the temple authorities organize the mela in the most flawless manner,” Kamrup (Metro) deputy commissioner M Angamuthu said.
The state tourism department has mounted a massive campaign in the last few days to showcase the Ambubachi Mela as a major attraction for pilgrims as well as other visitors from across the country. Also the most important centre for practice and study of tantra and shaktism, the Ambubachi Mela has also attracted a number of pilgrims and visitors from several foreign countries.
The Ambubachi Mela is said to be a festival coinciding with the four-day annual holy cycle that Kamakhya – the Mother Goddess in this temple who also represents the goddess of procreation and fertility – undergoes generally in the fourth week of June. While the temple door remains shut for four days marking the annual holy cycle of the ruling deity, pilgrims wait in serpentine queues for a one-minute entry into the sanctum sanctorum on the fifth day.Though dedicated to Devi or the Mother Goddess, Kamakhya Temple does not have any statue or iconographic representation of the ruling deity. Instead, there is a yoni – a female genital – on a rock inside the sanctum sanctorum, on which prayers and offerings are made by the priests and pilgrims.