Devotees from across the world thronged the famous Kamakhya temple atop the Nilachal hill in Assam's Guwahati to mark the beginning of the annual Ambabuchi Mela - one of the biggest religious congregation of eastern India.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday flagged off the festival and said, "The power of Maa Kamakhya's blessings enables them to contribute meaningfully to sustain an environment of peace and harmony in the world."
CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal inaugurated the 2019 #AmbubachiMela in presence of Union Tourism Minister Shri @prahladspatel and other dignitaries in Guwahati.— Chief Minister Assam (@CMOfficeAssam) June 21, 2019
On the occassion, the CM released an information booklet highligting necessary information of the event. pic.twitter.com/hdmyKA11gU
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya and is said to be one of the most sacred seats of the Shakti cult. This time, the centre and the state are working together to re-brand the Ambabuchi Mela as an event beyond a religious gathering, in an attempt to use the event to draw religious tourism in Assam.
During the first three days, the temple's main door remains shut as it is believed that during this period, "Mother Earth" experiences the annual cycle of menstruation.
This year over 25 lakh people are expected to visit the temple for the festivities.
During this period, farmers often avoid cultivation process in order to give "Mother Earth" an "undisturbed ambiance".
Guwahati: Thousands of devotees throng Kamakhya temple for the #AmbubachiMela beginning tomorrow mid night and to conclude on 26 June.— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) June 21, 2019
The doors of the temple will remain closed during this period. pic.twitter.com/MbJarYO9fo
"We have great respect for goddess Kamakhya and that is why we are here to seek her blessing, I have come here after five years, because in past whatever I prayed for, was fulfilled" said Sarita Shukla, a devote from Luckhnow.
"In Earlier days Kamakhya Ambabuchi Mela was mainly restricted to devotees and sadhaks, but ever since the new government took charge the focus has been to promote it as a place of spiritual and religious tourism, for the past two years we have run campaigns in national and international markets we have also engaged actress Priyanka Chopra as our brand ambassador and this has helped in international mileage," Jayanta Malla Baruah , Chairman of Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) told NDTV.
The number of foreigners visiting the Kamakhya temple has also seen a significant over the years.
"I like sadhus and temple here and the vibes, India is still seen as a nation with lesser space for women and equality and thus this festival stand out as it celebrates women is a larger life" said Sabrina, a visitor from Germany.
For centuries, devotees have visited the Kamakhya temple during the grand festival to celebrate what is believed to be the annual menstruation cycle of the goddess.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.