Rs 2.6 Cr budget allocated for Ambubachi Mela 2019, 25 lakh devotees expected
GUWAHATI: Preparations for Ambubachi Mela are going on in the city in full swing. The tourism department of Assam government is working in tandem with the district administration and other departments like PWD and GMC to organize the festival smoothly.
This year, Ambubachi Mela will be held from June 22-25 and the total expense for the holy festival has been estimated at Rs 2.6 crores.
Out of the total amount, Rs 1.36 crores will be spent by the Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) for publicity of the event, decoration of the Kamakhya temple and the approaching roads with ornamental lights, and conducting the cultural programs.
The remaining amount is being used for the development of roads, setting up of camps, drinking water facilities, toilet facilities, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, etc.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) is set to establish 330 water taps in and around Kamakhya Temple for convenience of devotees who will visit the temple during the upcoming Ambubachi mela.
In an attempt to promote the festival, the ATDC has targeted people from across the country by means of hoardings, radio jingles and television advertisements.
“According to previous records, most of the devotees come from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to attend the Ambubachi Mela. So, we have already started promotional activities in those states by means of radio jingles, advertisement on regional TV channels etc. Promotional hoardings have also been installed at Kolkata and New Delhi airports. We have also requested the railway ministry to run two special trains – one from Banaras to Guwahati and another from Kolkata to Guwahati during the Mela days,” the ATDC chairman, Jayanta Malla Baruah said.
Guwahati expected to host 25 lakh devotees during Ambubachi Mela
The city is gearing up for the largest religious congregation in the state as an estimated 25 lakh people are expected to attend the four-day long annual festival.
"Based on ledger head count, a total of over 20 lakh pilgrims visited the temple during the 2018 Ambubachi Mela. This year, we're expecting the numbers to go up by 20% and we're gearing up to host them all," informed Jayanta Malla Baruah, Chairman of ATDC.
Kamakhya is one of the 51 shakti shrines representing different body parts of Shiva's consort Sati. During the four-day event from June 22 to June 25, the temple door remains closed. It is believed that the presiding Goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during the festival.
Devotees from across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries visit the temple to seek blessing of the Mother Goddess during her most potent and sacred time. From devotees to black-clad aghoris and sadhus to sanyasis, people from all walks of life visit the holy shrine.
In a bid to ease traffic congestion and ensure hygiene, the Kamrup (M) district administration has decided against setting up a rest camp for devotees near the Kamakhya Railway Station during the ensuing Ambubachi Mela.
“On the basis of previous data, we have realized that the rest camp near the railway station causes a lot of inconvenience to other passengers. So we have taken the current step,” informed Biswajeet Pegu, Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (M).
A total of four campsites will be put up this year - one each at Fancy Bazar Jail Campus, Pandu Railway Station, Boripara High School Playground and Naharbari.
"This time, instead of erecting large number of makeshift camps for devotees, we have decided to keep the number to only four. All the four camps will have 20% more capacity for accommodating devotees. There will be information centres at the Kamakhya railway junction to help devotees in guiding them to different camps," said the ATDC chairman.
He further added that bus service will be provided to the devotees to help them commute to the campsites. At the campsites, the devotees will be provided with clean and hygienic living facilities, washrooms and drinking water facilities.
To control the huge gathering and to avoid any kind of accident, this time plying of all vehicles will be strictly restricted during the Mela days. The district administration said that they wouldn’t even allow VIP vehicles on the road from the foothill to the temple premises during peak hours.
Additionally, for the convenience of devotees, all four roads approaching the temple have been developed and will be in use throughout the festival. Drinking water facility, footwear stands and rest camps will be set up in all the routes.
Guidelines for serving food in Bhandaras issued
The administration has taken special steps to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in the city during the Ambubachi Mela. As part of the effort, it has issued a number of guidelines to the Bhandaras who provide free food to devotees.
In a charter of directives, the district administration clearly stated that every Bhandara should have to maintain utmost hygiene and sanitation while preparing and serving food, and all ingredients used for the preparation of different food items must be of the best quality. The Bhandaras have also been asked to refrain from using chilli powder, dry chillies, pumpkins, khichri, blended oil and curd in the preparation of food.
Further, no temporary stall to distribute food items will be allowed along the road to the Kamakhya temple from Bharalumukh, and from the Kamakhya Gate to Maligaon. Officials of the district food safety department will constantly monitor all the food prepared and served during the Mela days.
The administration will also impose a total restriction on the distribution of food outside the dining hall of the Bhandaras.