Guwahati, June 22 (IANS) The Ambubachi mela got underway Saturday at the historical Kamakhya temple located atop the Nilachal Hills here.
Known as the 'Mahakumbh of the East', the four-day religious festival normally witnesses lakhs of devotees and tourists thronging the temple from different parts of the country and abroad every year.
The ancient Kamakhya temple is one of the famous Shaktipeeths and is dedicated to Goddess Durga (Shakti). The main temple will remain closed for the next four days along with other temples in the state.
The temple authorities Saturday shut the doors of the temple to lock the Mother Goddess in for her annual "menstrual period". The temple will reopen on Wednesday morning. During the period, as per the mythology, Hindus do not worship and farmers do not plough the land.
According to the estimates of the temple authorities, nearly two lakh people have already arrived at the temple and more devotees are expected to arrive during the festival. The authorities expect nearly eight lakh people visiting the festival this year.
The civil administration in collaboration with the Kamakhya Debuttar Board, the administrative wing of the temple, has chalked out elaborate plans to ensure security and safety to all.
"Besides permanent shelters, we have put up temporary tents to accommodate pilgrims. Hygiene is a big concern as there would be a huge turnout of people. We have set up 500 temporary toilets in the temple complex to address this concern. Volunteers have been engaged to maintain cleanliness and hygiene round the clock during this period," said Kamrup (Metro) district Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri.
Besides this, sufficient number of security forces have also been deployed at the temple to maintain law and order during the festival, he said.
"Lakhs of devotees have also been camping in different parts of the city. Elaborate security arrangements are being made to ensure smooth conduction of the festival," said an office-bearer of the Kamakhya Debuttar Board.