File Photograph of the Kamakhya temple during Ambubachi Mela in 2019

The shaktipeeth Kamakhya atop Nilachal hill in Guwahati wore a deserted look in sharp contrast to previous years as one of the largest religious congregation in the Northeast, the annual Ambubachi Mela in the temple premise, which was scheduled to commence from June 22, has been cancelled for the first time in recorded history.

The COVID-19 pandemic had led the Kamakhya Devalaya Management Committee to cancel the mela, which has been witnessing over 15 lakh devotes and visitors since past few years.

Though the mela has been cancelled, the religious rituals associated with the Ambubachi Mahayog period, during which Goddess Kamakhya is believed to undergo her annual menstrual cycle, are being performed.

The Ambubachi Mahayog started at 7.53 am on June 22, marking the closure of the temple doors and halt in all religious activities.

The Mahayog will end at 8.16 pm on June 25, after which worship will resume and temple doors will re-open.

The Ambubachi Mela is held in the premise of the temple during the days when worship is stopped.

Visitors, pilgrims and devotees from across the country and abroad visit the mela, with the numbers growing over the years and the Assam government promoting it as a major tourist attraction in the state.

After spending the four days of mela in the temple premise, the devotees queue up for paying obeisance to the Goddess when the temple door re-opens.

Security personnel have been posted at entrances to the temple to ensure that no one attempts to enter the premise from any point this year, with the temple committee also appealing to the people to cooperate with them.

When the temple door re-opens, no provision for VVIP visits has been made this year, the management committee informed, adding that only the rituals will be performed by the priests and no visitor will be allowed at all.

The Kamakhya temple was closed on March 20 due to the pandemic. While the state government allowed re-opening of religious places under certain guidelines from June 8, the Kamakhya Devalaya Management Committee has decided to keep it closed till June 30.

Decision to re-open after June 30 will be taken depending on the situation, the committee added.

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