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Home > India > News > Report

Assam braces for annual fest; troops on alert

June 20, 2008 13:12 IST

Security forces have taken positions atop the sacred Neelachal Hills as thousands of pilgrims were streaming into the Kamkhya temple for the annual Ambubachi mela, starting from Saturday.

"We are expecting about three lakh pilgrims this time, but we are equally worried about the security as the terrorists could do anything. They would love to take this oppurtunity. But I believe in Goddess Kamakhya; she will protect us," said Navakanta Sarma, the temple trust president.

But Assam government is not keeping all its faith on the Goddess.

"We will maintain adequate security so that pilgrims feel safe. In fact, we are sending two platoons more on Friday," said Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Debojit Deuri.

Although the fair opens only from Saturday, but the vast complex have been teeming with activities as various sadhus are holding courts, displaying their amazing skills and casting a mystic spell.

Guwahati Superintendent of Police Pradip Pujari said no private vehicles will be allowed to drive up the Neelachal hills. Free ferry vehicles have been arranged for transporting the pilgrims, he added.

"I have been coming to Kamakhya for the past 30 years with my disciple. This time we are a team of 25," said Bhangi Baba, one of the 600-odd sadhus, who have congregated in the temple complexes.

The temple trust secretary said their main focus was to maintain hygiene, public toilets and food for the devotees. The number of devotees is expected to go up in the next one week with the maximum gathering on June 25 -- the day the gates of the temple would be opened.

"We have made sure that no vehicles, except the emergency one, travel up to the temple gate. We have made arrangements for shuttle buses and the pilgrims can come by that. No individual vehicles would be allowed. We want to keep the whole complex as free as possible," he said.

To guarantee peaceful conclusion of the sacred celebrations, which falls on June 25, the temple trust has installed metal detectors and has started training its own security personnel to use them.

The temple, atop a hill on the banks of the Brahmaputra, is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya, consort of Lord Shiva [Images]. The idol of goddess Kamakhya inside the temple is represented by a female fertility symbol. It is believed that prayers made during this time appeases the goddess and is an auspicious time to attain spiritual well-being.