Guwahati: It was all different this time. The mad rush, the long queues, tunes of Shankh Naad, Baul music and mostly the electrifying ambience; everything was missing.
The Monday morning was never like before as the annual Ambubachi Mela began without its one of the most vital component-the millions of pilgrims who assemble atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati during this time of the year.
The temple wore a deserted look as the rituals of the Mela began in the morning.
For the first time in the history, Assam’s largest religious congregation of Ambubachi Mela was held without a ‘single’ pilgrim from outside. Last year there were 20 lakh pilgrims and devotees from all over the world had attended Ambubachi Mela.
Bhupesh Sarma, secretary of Maa Kamakkhya Devalaya Management Committee told Time8, “After the rituals of Puja and Bhog, the temple doors were shut at7.53 A.M. Everything was performed adhering to the norms of social distancing. No one from outside was allowed.”
It was decided that only priests will perform rituals in the temple premises for these days.
The Ambubachi Mela marks the annual menstruation of the goddess Kamakhya when the gates of the temple remain closed for everyone. Gates of the temple are closed for four days worshiping the Goddess.
The Kamakhya temple is one of shaktipeeths or seat of Shakti followers, each representing a body part of the Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion. The temple’s sanctum houses the yoni of the Devi — female genital — symbolised by a rock.
Sharing his thoughts, Sarma said that this year’s festival was held in an ‘unexpected’ manner. “There is so much life and energy that usually gather at the temple premise and all around the hills every year during the Mela. But this year, it is so empty and dull. It’s so painful,” he said.
The Mela will end on June 26.
He also mentioned that the temple committee has been very strict with the social distancing norms and that’s why the temple doors were even closed before there was an official lockdown.
Even though the government has allowed religious institutions to open for public on certain conditions from June 8, the Committee, keeping public safety in mind had decided to keep the temple closed till June 30.
“The way the numbers are increasing is alarming. We have to re-visit our decision of opening of the temple gate after June 30. Everything will be depending on the situation,” Sarma informed.
The locality around the temple, lived mostly by the priests and their families, is highly dense. Moreover, recently a very high numbers of cases have also been found in areas like Pandu, Maligaon, Jalukbari which are located on the foothills of Nilachal.
Till filling of this report, Assam has a total 5586 COVID positive cases with nine deaths.