Assam is inhabited by several tribes and each has its unique rituals, customs and festivals. However, in some religious festivals, they come together to celebrate, setting aside the differences. One such example is the famous Ambubachi mela. Held every year at the iconic Kamkhaya temple in Guwahati, the mela lures millions of pilgrims. It is usually held at the end of June every year for 3 to 4 days.
The nuances of Ambubachi Mela
The Kamakhya shrine authorities get active support from the Assam state government to conduct the religious event properly. The district administration takes precautions for safety and arranges for accommodation and transport options for the devotees who throng the temple. The festival also attracts pilgrims from neighboring countries. Camps are set up to accommodate the devotees. Provisions for medical support, drinking water and food are made at the camps. The Assam State Transport Corporation runs extra buses to cope with the rush during those days. APDCL is responsible for supplying power.
In recent years, security at the temple premises has been beefed up for smooth conducting of the festival. CCTV cameras are installed at the premises. The temple is decked up lavishly for the event. Owing to the mela activities, regular darshan stays halted. Lots of volunteers are deployed to aid the pilgrims as well. During the mela, tobacco smoking is not allowed in the Nilachal Hill region.
Religious beliefs associated with Ambubachi Mela
As it is, the roots of Ambubachi Mela are embroiled in ancient tantric traditions and rituals of India. The festival is about celebration of Shakti rites. It is thought that during the 3 days of this puja, the goddess Kamakhya undergoes yearly menstruation. So, the pujas are halted and farmers stop ploughing the land. Interestingly, no idol of Devi Kamakhya is worshipped but a yoni-like stone is deemed as her emblem. On the 4th day, the regular darshan and puja resumes. Prasads are distributed to the devotees after the goddess is bathed. A large fair is also held for the puja. A number of tantric sadhus also gather at the temple on these days. Even a large number of Naga sadhus gather at the temple to take part in the auspicious event.