Guwahati: Kamakhya Temple Celebrating Subdued but 45-Day-Long Extended Durga Puja
Durga Puja will be a subdued affair this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has almost changed the course of the world within a year’s time. With the government trying its best to curb the disease, the festivities this year will be limited.
While the more than 450 Durga Pujas organised in Guwahati have decided to keep it a low-key affair by performing just the rituals, the celebrations at Shakti Peeth Kamakhya will be somewhat different.
Assam's Kamakhya Devalaya, the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peeths of the country, is associated with womanhood. As such worship of ‘Shakti’ is one of the major celebrations at Nilachal Hill.
Every year, Durga Puja is observed for a fortnight in Kamakhya unlike the rest of Guwahati or elsewhere, where only the last four days are celebrated.
Here, the rituals being on ‘Krsna Navami’, the ninth day of the waning of the moon and end on ‘Sukla Navami’, the ninth day of the waxing of the moon of the Hindu month of ‘Asvina’, a cycle of fifteen days or ‘paksa’. Hence it is also called the ‘Pakhuvapuja’.
However this year, with Mahalaya being held 35 days prior to shashthi, the Durga Puja at Kamakhya is a 45-day affair.
The rituals of Durga Puja had started at the Shakti Peeth from 11th September onwards, even before Mahalaya. Although the Devalaya is not open for devotees in the present circumstances, the age-old rituals continue.
Mohit Sharma, Doloy of Kamakhya Devalaya, speaking to G Plus informed, “Our rituals and traditions are different from the rest of the country. We start even before the advent of Mahalaya, on the ‘Krsna Navami tithi’. This year it started on 11th September. So we are doing it accordingly.”
There is no idol worship, but the rituals are done in the ‘pitha’ or the sanctum sanctorum of Kamakhya. It is a conical shaped natural fissure about nine inches in length and 15 inches in width. The unique customs include Mahasnan, the bathing of the deity (Pithasthan) with Panchagarva, and, Bali or sacrifice of buffaloes, goats, pigeons, fishes, gourds, pumpkins, and sugarcanes.
Specials ceremonies are held every day during this period behind closed doors each year by a team of five priests. The main purohit or priest performs the Puja at the ‘pitha’, a second performs the role of ‘tantradharaka’ (chanting of the holy scriptures), the ‘hoota’ performs the yagnas and the ‘brahma’ meditates. The fifth does the ‘Chandi path’.
The rituals are observed daily in three phases — the 'pratah puja' or the morning rituals, 'madhyahna puja' or mid-day puja, and 'sahinna puja' or the evening puja.
These five priests or panda stay in the temple premises for the fifteen days of puja (45 days this year) and cannot go back to their families during this period. The rituals begin early every morning, and after the day’s fast, they cook for themselves - just one meal a day.
Clarifying the extended celebrations, Mohit Sarma mentioned that it’s due to the phenomenon of Mala Mash or an 'unholy month' when auspicious rituals are avoided. A Mala Mash is a month that has two new moons or Amavasyas.
Following the Assam government’s guidelines, the Kamakhya Devalaya has also opted for subdued celebrations. As such, no devotees are directly allowed like the previous years and there will be no distribution of ‘prasad’ and ‘bhog’.
- Assam news
- Guwahati news
- Durga Puja in Kamakhya Temple
- Kamakhya Temple Assam
- Durga puja 2020