Devotees and sadhus will not be allowed to enter the Kamakhya Temple in Assam during the forthcoming Ambubachi Mela from June 22 due to COVID-19 pandemic, the temple committee said on Wednesday. The four-day Ambubachi Mela will be held at the temple from June 22 with only the priests performing the rituals.
Devotees, sadhus and sanyasins will not be allowed to enter the temple premises or its nearby areas and all the entrances to the temple, atop the Neelachal hills here, will be closed, spokesperson of the Maa Kamakhya Devalaya MC Sarma said here.
"The Ambubachi Mela is an important religious congregation of the region and also occupies a significant place in the tourism sector of the state but we have been compelled to take this painful and drastic step due to the prevailing pandemic," the spokesperson said.
He appealed to the Assam government, Kamrup (Metro) district administration and people to extend their full cooperation to implement the decision taken by the Devalaya Management Committee in greater public interest.
Every year, the temple remains closed for four days in the belief that the annual menstrual cycle of Goddess Kamakhya falls during the period. The temple reopens on the fifth day when devotees throng the place of worship to seek the blessings of the Goddess.
The occasion witnesses around 25 lakh footfalls from all over the country and abroad.
Sarma said, during the Mela social or religious organisations will not be allowed to set up camps, stalls, put up banners or distribute food as per the decision taken by the Devalaya Management Committee.
The spokesperson said, it has come to their notice that "some fraudsters pretending to be priests from Kamakhya are operating fake websites, Facebook pages, online shopping companies and collecting money from innocent devotees for online puja, prasad and the raktabastra (the holy red cloth)." The committee asked people to verify its authenticity as only priests living in the temple premises have access to such puja items, he said.
The Kamakhya temple was closed for devotees since March 20 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.
Even after the government issued a notification allowing religious places to open from June 8, the authorities of the Kamakhya Temple decided to keep it closed till June 30 due to the coronavirus crisis. The decision to reopen the temple will be taken after due consideration of the situation and people will be informed accordingly, Sarma added.