Famed AMBUBACHI fest at Kamakhya temple cancelled this year

GUWAHATI, ASSAM, INDIA - JULY 4, 2014 : Hindu Devotees Worshiiping ...

THE annual Ambubachi Mela held at the Kamakhya Temple, one of the 51 shrines associated with Lord Shiva and his consort Sati in Guwahati, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country although the north-east is relatively free from its grip. Outstation pilgrims are impacted by lack of transport facilities. Passenger trains , air connectivity remain suspended because of nationwide lockdown affecting the pilgrimage, unlike previous years. The Assam Tribune claims that the religious event,one of the biggest religious congregations of the Hindu faith in eastern and north -eastern India , witnesses footfalls of 20 to 25 lakh pilgrims and tourists from all over the country and abroad.

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The five-day festival marks the annual menstruation cycle of the Mother Goddess Kamakhya  is also  among the biggest events in the annual tourism calendar of Assam providing a source of income .’’It was a tough decision for us. However, considering the threat perception due to the pandemic, we have decided not to hold the festival and restrict entry of devotees into the temple premises,” Bodoloi of the temple Mohit Chandra Sarma told The Assam Tribune. In Neelachal Hill on way to the headquarters of the North East Frontier Railway and  Gopinath Bodoloi International Airport, close to 600 local families reside from time immemorial remain devoted to religious activities of the temple. Many of them offer rooms on rent to the pilgrims for the Ambubachi Mela as Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has gone public saying the state government’s coffer is almost empty. As tourism in  Assam along with other NE states is among the worst affected during lockdown. The management of Maa Kamakhya Devalaya has however confirmed that the rituals performed during the festival will continue as usual from June 22 to 26. There countless legends and anecdotes about  temple revered by the Tantric sect of the Hindu faith is claimed to have been built and renovated multiple times between  8th-17th century in what is called hybrid indigenous Neelachal type. The temple consists of four chambers –Garbhagriha and three Mandapas called Calanta, Pancharatna and Natamandira aligned from east to west. The womb and vagina of Shakti, among the  51 parts of her body, are enshrined in the ‘Garvagriha’ or sanctum of the temple. During the AMBABUCHI in  June, the goddess bleeds or menstruates. The Brahmaputra river near Kamakhya turns red. Although there is no scientific proof as yet that the blood actually turns the river red, it is believed that menstruation it is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth. And hence, Kamakhya is worshipped as ‘shakti’ or power within every woman. Besides the annual AMBUBACHI fest, Manasha Puja and Durga Puja are also part of Kamakhya culture during Navaratri in the autumn. Kamakhya Temple is considered by the Hindu built in reverence to Goddess Kamakhya or Sati, one of the several incarnations of Goddess Durga, consort of Lord Shiva. (edited by PK Chakravarty with courtesy to     123 RF.com & CNBCTV18 for the images            )

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