The annual Ambubachi rituals at Assam's Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati began today, with priests symbolically closing the doors of the shrine for four days.
Festivities, however, have been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and devotees have been barred from assembling anywhere near the temple -- one of the 51 Shaktipeethas or Hindu holy sites for the followers of the Shakti cult.
Mohit Chandra Sarma, the head priest (Bor Doloi) of the shrine, said all rituals and prayers would be conducted in accordance with the norms, and a decision about reopening the temple was to be taken in consultation with the Kamrup Metropolitan district administration.
The administration had earlier announced that the customary mela or fair held on the occasion has been called off in the wake of the pandemic, and no devotee, pilgrim, seer or tourist will be allowed to enter or stay on the premises of the Shaktipeetha atop the Nilachal Hills.
Many seers from neighbouring states have arrived in Guwahati over the past few days. However, none was allowed to go up the hill.
Ambubachi Mela, also known as Ameti or the tantric fertility festival, is among the most important events on the state's tourism calendar, with footfall of around 25 lakh recorded every year.
The doors of the temple are closed for four days, marking the annual menstrual cycle of Goddess Kamakhya.
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