Ambubachi mela kicks off, Kamakhya temple to be opened tomorrow

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, June 24: Thousands of devotees from across the country and abroad have thronged the Kamakahya Temple atop the Nilachal Hill here to offer prayers on the occasion of the “nibritti” of Ambubachi on Tuesday.

Security measures have been intensified across the city for the fair, which was inaugurated by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on June 21.

The temple, which has remained closed since Saturday, will be opened for visitors on Tuesday morning. This time the fair was promoted by Assam government as an integral part of ‘religious tourism’.

During the four-day Ambubachi festival, Devi Kamakhya is believed to go through her annual cycle of menstruation. The doors of the temple are closed for the devotees and regular rituals are suspended for four days.

On the fifth day, devotes are allowed to enter the temple only after the ‘shuddhi’ or the ritualistic bath of the Devi.

Elaborate arrangements have been made for the devotees for their “safe, comfortable and memorable” stay here during the Ambubachi Mela.

The administration has taken measures to ensure smooth flow of devotees to and from the temple during the festival, including ferry services, health camps, cleanliness measures, security and surveillance, lodging arrangements and cultural events.

Five major camps have been set up by the government to distribute food and water among the pilgrims.

City police Commissioner Hiren Nath said security has been intensified with the entire area divided into 14 sectors, six of which are being looked after by a superintendent of police-rank officer.

The authorities have also deployed nearly 200 volunteers, placed 400 CCTV cameras at strategic positions, set up three control rooms and several child rescue booths, he said.

The state tourism department has been taking various steps to promote and propagate ‘religious and spiritual tourism’ across the state with the Kamakhya Temple being the prime focus, mainly due to its popularity among people.

The department has plans to turn the festival as a major congregation of different faiths to create a “cohesive atmosphere” and send across the message of “integration”, Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) chairman Jayanta Malla Barua told reporters here.

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