The annual Ambubachi Mela concluded in Guwahati on June 26 with nearly eight lakh people visiting the Kamakhya Temple, a famous Shakti shrine. This despite the mela being a low-key affair because of floods in the State. It was held for the first time since 2019 owing to COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020 and 2021.
As a part of the rituals, the temple doors were symbolically closed for four days with the ‘Pravritti’ on June 22.
“Ambubachi” means “spoken with water” which signifies that the rains expected during this month make the earth fertile and ready for procreation. Daily worship is suspended during this period.
Elaborate arrangements were made for the devotees visiting the temple atop the Nilachal Hills in the city. However, no personal vehicles or public transport were allowed there, Kamrup (Metro) Additional Deputy Commissioner Bipul Das informed Asom Barta.
Three tented accommodations, with a total capacity to house around 30,000 devotees, were set up with toilet facilities below the hills in Pandu Port Camp, Maligaon and Old Jail Campus at Fancy Bazar. Some NGOs and individuals also set up camps for pilgrims at Bharalumukh and Nursery areas of the city.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) was entrusted with the cleanliness drive before and during the Mela. “Cleanliness was one of the themes for this year’s Ambubachi Mela. Nearly 750 Safai Mitras were deputed to realise the objective. Apart from the temple premises, safai mitras were deputed in camps set up for pilgrims,” Devasish Sarma, Commissioner, GMC told Asom Barta. He said that two static compactors were pressed into service for waste disposal in the vicinity of Kamakhya Temple.
Das added that since vehicular movement had been restricted to the temple for four days of the festival, the administration had arranged ferry car services for all frontline workers for visiting the temple premises. This reporter, too, was a beneficiary of such a service.
“Facilities in the camp set up by the administration are better this time. Food served by NGOs is vegetarian. There is police’s vigilance in the camp beside medical facilities”, said Mrinal Kanti Guha, a pilgrim from Habra Gaighata Village in 24 North Pargana district of West Bengal when Asom Barta interacted with him on June 23. Guha said he had been a regular visitor to the Mela since 2012.
Nandan Kumar and seven others from Begusarai in Bihar arrived in Guwahati on June 21, a day before the beginning of the festival. “This is my first visit to the Shakti Peeth. I am amazed to see a gathering like this at the temple premises. We are satisfied with the food and lodging arrangements,” Nandan Kumar told Asom Barta.
Dipankar Barman, an ACS officer, deputed at the old jail campus, told Asom Barta that most of the pilgrims there were from the States of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
Bindeswari Das, a sadhu from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, who had been a regular visitor to the Mela since 2007, was also happy with the facilities.