Sivasagar: Flanked by a sea of green paddy stock in vast agricultural fields, the swaying reeds with whitish flowers beside the confluence of three rivers namely Dikhow, Dorika and the mighty Brahmaputra and the cacophony of wild ducks in Autumn evenings are just enough to invite the attention of any visitor to the soothing sight of historic Ramkhapeeth at Dikhowmukh in Sivasagar district of Upper Assam, which is all set to celebrate Durga Puja with century-old traditions.
The site has recently been opted by many indigenous people for pilgrimage tourism too. The unique feature of the site is that a namghar of Vaishnavite tradition and the Shaktipeeth of purely Sakta rituals are located at the same premises of Deogharia village of Dikhowmukh, which witnesses thousands assembled at the site during Puja.
Best known as Shaktipeeth among the locals in Sivasagar, the history of the present site of Shakti worship traced back to its establishment during the period of Ahom king Lakhmi Singha, who was a great devotee of goddess Durga. There is no idol of Durga at the Shaktipeeth. Like the famous Kamakhya temple, a holy piece of aniconic natural stone located at the temple’s sanctum sanctorum is worshipped as the part of Devi Durga.
According to many nonagenarians of Dikhowmukh, who have been closely associated with the Shaktipeeth, the king had made an urgent arrangement to recover the holy piece of aniconic stone from the deepest portion of the confluence as his fortune teller (Bailung) told him that some shrine of Adi Shakti might be remaining underwater at the spot which needed to be worshipped for the welfare of the state. Only after worshipping Durga with Vedic rituals the king and his people could lift out the aniconic piece of holy stone and some other materials which were believed to be the ruins of any Shaktipeeth.
“We came to know from our past generations that Swargadeu Lakhmi Singha set up the Ramkhapeeth beside the confluence of Brahmaputra, Dikhow and Dorika rivers. The king engaged a priest and some families in the historic Deoghoria village. The name of the village itself reveals that it is attached to Deughar or Devalaya,” said a retired principal Toseswar Borthakur. The nonagenarian resident of Dikhowmukh is a descendant of the priest late Matigaru Borthakur, who was claimed to be engaged by the Ahom King.
Along with the holy aniconic stone, the King’s people recovered some pieces of ‘ancient sculptures’, matchets which were used for animal sacrifice there. It is also believed that all the holy items recovered by the King’s people belonged to the ruins of a Durga Peeth who was revered as the goddess of shakti at Sadiya during Chutia rule. Generation after generation several families of Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district visit the Shaktipeeth during Dura puja as they strongly believe that their forefathers offered puja to the holy shrine before it was ruined by the erosion of Brahmaputra.
According to the nonagenarians of local Dikhowmukh, who have been associated with the worshipping at Ramkhapeeth since their childhood, the king set up the village Deoghoria and engaged the priest namely Matigaru Borthakur and his descendants to offer daily puja to goddess Durga. Families belonging to Bora, Barua, Pasoni, Bharali, Leuj and a few Assamese titles of Deogharia village were entrusted to look after the Shaktipeeth and help the priest in offering puja.
Since the period of Swargadeu Lakhmi Singha, Durga Puja has been celebrated at Ramkhapeeth, locals opined. However, the Shaktipeeth had to be shifted thrice from the original site of its establishment because of massive erosion at the confluence which is popularly known as “Triveni Sangam” at Dikhowmukh. As the villagers of Deogharia were deeply motivated by shakti worship in Ramkhapeeth they showed instances of donating land and property willingly for the shaktipeeth many times while its shifting was of utmost necessity.
Though some devotees and a few government departments have offered financial grants for the development of infrastructure at Ramkhapeeth, historical research and the conservation of the ancient assets of archaeological importance are yet to be done properly by the departments concerned, said many sensitive locals of Dikhowmukh.
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