GUWAHATI: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Assam’s Kamakhya Temple Management Committee has decided not to organize the annual “Ambubachi Mela” this year.
The religious congregation, organised from June 22-26 every year, draws lakhs of people from around the country and abroad.
The temple authorities said the extraordinary situation created by COVID-19 made them to take the tough decision. The holding of the annual event without the congregation of devotees was unheard of in the history of the centuries-old temple which is perched atop the Nilachal Hill in Guwahati.
“The executive members of Kamakhya Devalaya had a meeting where it was unanimously decided not to have the congregation this year as the world is faced with a catastrophe. However, we will have the rituals,” Kamakhya Devalaya Bor Doloi (priest) Mohit Sarma told this newspaper.
“This is, perhaps, for the first time that we will have the rituals without the congregation of people. Even during the historic Assam Agitation of the early 1980s, we had this Mela although the turnout of devotees was very small,” Sarma said.
He said as the number of cases of COVID-19 was rising across states, including West Bengal from where a lot of devotees come, the temple authorities wanted to avoid congregation by not having the Mela.
“People come from all over. They book their train and flight tickets well in advance. We took a decision early on not to have the Mela for their convenience,” Sarma said.
He added: “Our daily pujas are going on. There are four-five priests who take turns to perform the pujas by strictly adhering to social distancing norms. Nobody else is allowed inside the temple.”
Believed to be destroyed during Hussein Shah’s invasion of the Kamata kingdom in the 15th century, the temple was reconstructed in 1565 during the reign of Nara Narayan of the Koch dynasty. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas.