Ambabuchi Mela: Rest camp dwelling conditions for devotees far from hygienic
GUWAHATI: Lakhs of devotees participated in the recently-concluded Ambubachi Mela which saw pilgrims visiting Kamakhya Temple over the course of the four days to partake in the biggest religious festival of the state.
Guwahati saw devotees visiting from nearby states who thronged Kamakhya Temple and adjacent areas during the festival.
However, hygiene conditions at the camps set up by the district administration at Pandu as well as Fancy Bazaar remained below standard. The district administration had constructed six camps this year for the lodging of the devotees visiting the Mela which started from June 22.
Three rest camps were erected at the Old Jail Campus at Fancy Bazar, while one each were constructed in Pandu, Naharbari and Badipara.
At the Pandu camp, however, cleanliness was not properly maintained as the camp was littered with used plates, polythene pouches and used plastic bottles among others.
Further, a strong stench emanated from near the toilets. The district administration had also constructed a number of make-shift toilets and bathrooms for the devotees staying at the camp.
When asked about the poor sanitation conditions, the volunteers at the camp said that they were trying their best to maintain cleanliness, but they said the sheer magnitude of devotees made the task very difficult for them.
Additionally, an official at the Pandu rest camp also informed that more number of devotees visited the camp this year than they had anticipated. He further added that a footfall of more than 20 lakhs was seen till the third day at the temple.
“Till the first three days of the festival, every inch of the campsite was filled with devotees and several people had to sleep on the ground too outside the main tent. However, the number of devotees from the camp started thinning from the fourth day onwards,” mentioned an official at the Pandu camp site.
A devotee who had visited the Ambubachi Mela from West Bengal for the first time this year told G Plus that she had heard several tales from people back home about the grandeur of the festival and couldn’t resist visiting this year.
“I was very happy to see a religious festival celebrating Maa Kamakhya of this scale here in Guwahati. I will wait for darshan of the Goddess when the doors open and will leave the next day. I have planned to visit next year too,” she said.
Fancy Bazar Rest Camp registers fewer devotees
On the other hand, the Fancy Bazar rest camps did not register many devotees during the course of the festival. A total of three camps were set up at the Fancy Bazar old jail site to accommodate 20,000 devotees. But the campsite received very less footfall with only 6,000 people registering there in the past three days.
“The gathering this year is much less than anticipated. We had made arrangements for 20,000 people to stay at Fancy Bazaar campsite but less than one-third of the estimate has turned up,” a volunteer at the Fancy Bazar camp informed G Plus.
The condition of the Fancy Bazar rest camp, too, was not up to the mark in terms of hygiene. The camp was filled with dust and was also littered with polythene and plastic bottles.
Inside the rest Fancy Bazar rest camp, bhandaras were set up by the local bodies apart from the district administration, which provided food for the devotees.
Here Majority of the devotees had come from various places in West Bengal including Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Cooch Behar, as well as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Govt provisions at Railway Station for devotees
Additionally, the authorities had also made arrangements at the Kamakhya railway station for devotees. Security personnel as well as volunteers and officials from the district administration were present at the railway station to guide pilgrims to the rest camps or the temple.
Further, an information centre was also set up for the ease of devotees.
At the railway station, the district administration had arranged for 80 free Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses to take people from Kamakhya Railway Station to the temporary shelters.
Further, continuous bus service was also made available to take pilgrims from the shelters to the base gates of Kamakhya temple for which 100 buses were allocated.
At the railway station, help desks and counters of the GMC, PWD, police, ASTC and the tourism department were set up. This apart, a waiting shelter for the devotees was also constructed and medical facilities were made available.
Several NGOs and civil society organisations had also made food and water arrangements for pilgrims at several places from the Kamakhya Railway Station to the temple.