Updated: June 27, 2016 3:56:53 am
As the Kamakhya temple in the Nilachal Hills reopened Sunday after the end of the four-day Ambubachi ritual, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and a host of Union ministers were among the first few who entered the temple to offer prayers.
While Sonowal reached the temple as soon as it reopened at 6 am, the other VVIP visitors included Assam Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irai, Petroleum Minister Dhramendra Pradhan and MoS Drinking Water and Sanitation Ram Kripal Yadav. Assam Governor PB Acharya was also among those who queued up to offer prayers Sunday.
Pradhan, meanwhile, announced that Petroleum Ministry would allocate Rs 25 crore for the temple’s development over the next couple of years. “This fund would come from CSR projects of different oil companies,” state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet.
A state tourism official said the four-day Ambubachi Mela this time attracted over 20 lakh pilgrims and other visitors over a period of seven days. Pilgrims from across the sub-continent had started arriving several days ahead of Ambubachi and thousands are expected to stay on for a few more days.
An ancient temple and a sacred seat of ‘Shakti’ cult, Kamakhya for long has been important centre for practice and study of tantra. Though dedicated to the Devi or the Mother Goddess, Kamakhya Temple does not have any statue of the ruling deity. Instead, there is a yoni – female genital – symbolised by a rock inside the sanctum sanctorum in front of which prayers and offerings are made by the priests and pilgrims.
“While Assam is known for its hospitality and rich tradition of according highest respect to pilgrims and visitors since ages, this year’s Ambubachi Mela had witnessed the participation of lakhs of pilgrims from all over. The high turn-out also speaks a lot about the image of Assam outside. We will transform the Ambubachi Mela into one of the greatest tourist attractions of the country in the next few years,” Chief Minister Sonowal said.
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