Ambubachi Mela

Guwahati, June 24: The annual Ambubachi Mela at Assam’s famed Kamakhya Temple began with devotees allowed to participate after a gap of two years.

As a part of the rituals, the temple doors were symbolically closed for four days with the ‘Pravritti’ on Wednesday, Maa Kamakhya Devalaya’s head priest or ‘Bor Doloi’ Kabinath Sarma said.

‘Nivriti’ or the opening of the door will take place on the morning of June 26, he said.

In view of the devastating floods in the state, the festival is being observed in a subdued manner this time.

Also Read: Assam floods toll now 107; IAF to fly drinking water to Silchar

Elaborate arrangements have been made for the devotees who are visiting the temple atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati but no personal vehicles or public transport are being allowed, Kamrup Metropolitan’s Deputy Commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha said.

Senior citizens and devotees with special needs are being ferried in vehicles provided by the district administration to the top of the hills, he said.

Three tented accommodations, having the capacity to house around 30,000 devotees in each, have been set up with toilet facilities below the hills in Pandu Port Camp, Maligaon, and Old Jail Complex at Fancy Bazar, officials said.

Distribution of drinking water and food is being done at designated places along the road to the temple, they said.

The doors of the temple are closed for four days, marking the belief that the annual menstrual cycle of Goddess Kamakhya happens during this time. It reopens on the fifth day when devotees throng the temple to seek blessings.

During the last two years, the Kamakhya temple was closed to the public due to the pandemic and the Ambubachi rituals were performed only by the priests.

The temple was closed to the public from March 20 to October 11 in 2020, and last year, it was closed from May 13 to August 21.

Ambubachi, associated with the belief in a fertility cult, is the most important religious event in the temple. It is also a significant part of the state’s tourism calendar with around 25 lakh footfalls usually recorded during the festival.