As the Kamakhya temple in the Nilachal Hills reopened on Sunday after the end of the four-day Ambubachi ritual, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and a host of union ministers were among the first few who entered the temple to offer their prayers.
While Sonowal reached the temple as it reopened at 6 am, state health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, union HRD minister Smriti Irani, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and union sanitation and drinking water minister Ram Kripal Yadav were among other VVIPs who visited the Kamakhya Temple in the morning hours. State governor PB Acharya too was among those who had queued up to offer prayers on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Pradhan Sunday announced that his ministry would allocate Rs 25 crore for infrastructure development in Kamakhya Temple in the next couple of years.
“This fund would come from CSR projects of different oil companies,” state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet.
A state tourism official said the four-day Ambubachi Mela – that marks the annual holy cycle of the Mother Goddess – this time attracted over 20 lakh pilgrims over a period of seven days. Pilgrims from across the sub-continent had started arriving several days ahead of Ambubachi and thousands are expected to stay on for a few more days.
An ancient temple dedicated to the worship of shakti, Kamakhya is also known as the epicenter of tantric practice since time immemorial. Unlike other Hindu temples, the Kamakhya temple does not have any statue of the goddess. Instead, there is a yoni – the female genital – on a rock inside the sanctum sanctorum, on which prayers and offerings are made by the priests and pilgrims.
“While Assam is known for its hospitality and rich tradition of according highest respect to pilgrims and visitors since ages, this year’s Ambubachi Mela had witnessed the participation of lakhs of pilgrims from all over. The high turn-out also speaks about the image Assam outside. We will transform the Ambubachi Mela into one of the greatest tourist attractions of the country in the next few years,” chief minister Sonowal said.