Assam's famous Ambubachi festival, held annually at the iconic Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, has been cancelled for the second time in a row due to the raging coronavirus pandemic. The festival was to start from June 22.
The Ambubachi Mela is the biggest religious congregation in eastern India and sees over 25 lakh devotees from across the country.
Last year too, due to the pandemic, the festival was cancelled for the first time ever.
This year, Kamakhya Temple's management committee had decided in May to keep the holy place shut till June 30 as Covid cases saw a massive spike in the more deadly second wave.
"We will perform all the rituals of Ambubachi like we have done last year. But just like last year we have decided to avoid any congregation of devotees due to Covid. The people of Nilachal Hills are dependent on the devotees for their livelihood so by not holding the festival for two back to back years, people would be suffering economic losses as well. But this is for the the greater good of humanity," said the chief priest (Bor-Doloi) of Kamakhya temple Mohit Chandra Sarma in a telephonic interview to NDTV.
No devotees will be allowed at the temple to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Kamakhya is one of 51 Shaktipeeths or holy sites for the followers of the Shakti cult, each representing a body part of Sati, Lord Shiva's companion. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses the "yoni" of the Goddess.
During the festival, the temple is shut for four days as it is believed the Goddess, Devi Kamakhya, goes through her annual menstrual cycle during this time.
This year, all rituals of the festival will be performed by the temple committee inside the premises without any devotees.
Assam reported over 4,000 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. The state has registered over 4.24 lakh cases since the beginning of the pandemic last year.