- Just like any other year, this year also saw a large number of devotees and tourists gathering at the annual Ambubachi Mela in Nilachal hill
- The state government and the tourism department are keen on projecting the Kamakhya temple on the spiritual map of the country
- This year, for the first time, the temple authorities last week declared not to allow naga (naked) sadhus on the temple premises
Guwahati, June 23, 2017: The annual Ambubachi Mela has been inaugurated by Assam chief minister on June 21. The grand gathering is being projected by the state government on the country’s tourism map, as tantriks, sadhus and devotees from different parts of the country have started coming together here at the Kamakhya temple on top of Nilachal hill.
Officially inaugurating the four-day festival at Sonaram School playground at Bharalumukh, Sonaowal says, “The Kamakhya temple is a part of Assam’s identity in the country and abroad. It is one of the biggest centres of spiritual culture. We are taking steps to promote it and ensure that more and more people come. Last year, nearly 10 lakh devotees came and we expect more this year.”
Devotees from Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and many other parts of the country have visited the temple premises before the door closes the next morning. The temple remains shut for four days as devotees believe that goddess Kamakhya undergoes her annual menstrual cycle.
In conversation with The Telegraph, Debashish Biswas, a devotee from Malda in Bengal said, “This is my second visit to the mela and hope to have a glimpse of Ma Kamakhya once the door reopens on Monday morning.” Biswas, visiting with his wife Debashree, added, “I got married four years ago but we don’t have a baby yet. Many people told me that a visit to Kamakhya thrice in a row helps and we have come here to pray to Ma.”
Kamakhya temple is considered to be one of the 51 sacred shakti peths in the country and the devotees have been associating beliefs like these for ages with the holy shrine that have attracted tourists and enthusiasts to the mela at Kamakhya temple.
The temple has a very significant origin story associated with mythical King Daksha and his son-in-law Shiva. According to legends, His daughter Sati, married Shiva against her father’s wishes. Sati’s actions angered Daksha who invited all the gods to a yagna, except his son-in-law Shiva who he did not approve of. Sati, who attended the yagna only to be more humiliated by her father, plunged into the sacrificial fire of the yagna. An angered Shiva held Sati’s charred body and broke into the tandava nritya, the legendary dance of destruction. The supreme God Vishnu had to step in and in order to save the three worlds from an impending doom, used his sudarshan chakra and cut Sati’s body into pieces. As Shiva carried Sati’s body in sorrow, a part of Sati’s body fell on the Nilachal Hills and that is why the hill turned blue. This hill and the sacred temple is believed to have special abilities and the energy of creation. Also, according to the Kalika purana, Kamakhya temple marks the spot where Sati used to retire in secret with Shiva.
For a long time the mela has remained mostly a religious congregation, but this year the BJP government has big plans to attract enthusiasts. A lot of thought is being put into transforming it into one of the biggest centers of religious tourism in India. A strong promotional campaign has been launched on social media as well.
Not only the nearly 10 lakh devotees and tantriks, interested tourists and researchers from various parts of the country and nations like the UK, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Nepal, Bangladesh and others as well gathered at the temple last year. The list of VIPs who attended included big names like BJP chief Amit Shah, chief ministers of nine states, ministers, MPs and religious leaders who have been invited for the first time to this mela, among others.
Other than the 3.2km motorable road, there are three staircases that the devotees can climb to reach the Kamakhya temple and several other ancient shrines on Nilachal hills. An interesting tour package has been launched by the tourism department this year that offers exciting experiences for the tourists and devotees, such as tents on Nilachal hills and a river cruise on the Brahmaputra during Ambubachi mela, as part of its plan to mark a permanent spot for Kamakhya on the spiritual tourism map of the country.
This year, for the first time, the temple authorities last week declared not to allow naga (naked) sadhus on the temple premises. They believe such sights might create an awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere for devotees with families.
“Efforts were on to construct another road to reach the temple from Pandu on the western side of of Nilachal hills. We are planning to start a water taxi facility from Kamakhya temple to Umanand temple to fulfil the wishes of devotees,” Tourism minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang