Guwahati: For the second consecutive year, the annual Ambubachi Mela (festival) at Maa Kamakhya temple atop Nilachal Hill in the heart of Guwahati has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The four-day festival, recognised as the biggest religious congregation in eastern Bharat, was scheduled to begin on 22 June. However, necessary rituals will be performed by the selected priests as usual.
The management committee of Kamakhya Devalaya informed that no assembling of saint, devotee or tourists would be entertained at the temple premises till 30 June. The picturesque temple of Goddess Kamakhya or Kameshwari (Goddess of Desire) on the south bank of mighty Brahmaputra river remains closed for visitors since 13 May last.
Ambubachi (also known as Aamoti or Ambabati) attracts hundred thousand Hindu pilgrims from various parts of the globe. During the revered festival, the temple’s primary door gets closed for the first three days. The religious belief narrates that during the period the Mother Earth experiences the annual cycle of menstruation and it is reflected in Devi Kamakhya’s genital organ (Yoni).
No religious performances are organised in this period. The farmers across the Hindu world avoid cultivating works during the period so that the Earth can get an undisturbed ambience. On the fourth day, the temple door is reopened after Devi’s ritual-bathing and all devotees throng in for worshipping Devi Kamakhya.
Kamakhya temple, which is recognised as one of sacred 108 Shakti Peeths of Goddess Durga was built by Kamdev (God of Lust) with the help of God Vishwakarma. According to the Hindu mythology, the demon king Narakasura constructed a stiff stone path (known as Mekhela Ujowa Poth) connecting the temple from the foothills with an aim to marry Devi Kamakhya.
Muslim convert Kalapahar, the king of Coach Behar in western Assam destroyed the temple in 1553 AD. Maharaja Biswa Singh later repaired it in the seventeenth century. The king Nar Narayan, who ascended to the throne of Coach Behar after his father Biswa Singh’s demise, constructed the upper portion of the temple with the help of his brother Mahabir Chilarai.
Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the deity to fulfil the desires of devotees. The temple does not contain any image or statue of Kamakhya. Rather a sculptured image of Yoni of the Goddess in a cave is seen inside the main temple. A natural spring believes to keep the stone always moist. Devotees with all purity touch the silk cloth draped stone and offer Bilwa Patra (belpaat) and flowers on it.
Besides Ambubachi, many other religious festivals are organized in the sacrosanct temple premises annually that include Durga puja, Basanti puja, Manasa puja, Shivaratri mahotsav etc. Visitors (read only Hindus) are allowed to have Darshan and worship Kamakhya in the daytime. The temple has over 150 recognised priests, whereas more than 500 Pandas stay on the campus to help the devotees in various rituals.