Despite heat wave, thousands of devotees throng ‘Charantala Mela’

Tura: Despite the ongoing heat wave and unprecedented temperatures through the Garo Hills region, thousands of devotees of Goddess Kali thronged the venue of the annual three-day Charantala Mela in the village of Babedpara near Selsella in West Garo Hills (WGH).

The sweeping heat wave, however, ensured that many devotees, who earlier walked to the site, changed plans, despite which the numbers that visited the temple remained high.

According to folklore, ‘Charantala Mela‘ began at the site after Goddess Kali appeared in a dream and promised to rid the village of a small pox epidemic that had been afflicting the people in the year 1965. The village had seen about 20 deaths that year to the disease.

In the same year, after the dying down of the epidemic, locals created a makeshift temple from where prayers were offered to the Goddess. The word spread far and wide, leading to a huge number of devotees queuing up to offer prayers and ever since the numbers have only grown.

What may have started off as a makeshift temple currently houses a full structure of temples, with idols brought from places as far as Rajasthan, through donations made by devotees. Support from the state government has also helped in bettering amenities at the site with a fully functional transit site catering to the needs of religious tourists.

“We are extremely happy to come here as the place gives us peace of mind as well as makes us feel one with the powers that define us,” added Assam resident Ranjit Sarkar, who was visiting the temple along with his friends.

The three-day festival began on Monday, and saw the main religious performances on Tuesday. It will conclude on Wednesday and as always, will see lakhs come to pray to Goddess Kali.

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The lines to see the Goddess began early on Tuesday with Pujas continuing throughout the day. The queues continued through the day and night with many devotees camping in the nearby fields through the night, to be a part of the event.

“I have been coming every year since I can remember to pray for Goddess Kali’s blessings every year. It is a special day in our lives and we will continue to come till our legs can carry us,” said one Biju Saha, a resident of Tura, during his visit on Tuesday.

Due to the heat wave, most devotees who used to walk to the site, preferred to skip the walk owing to weather conditions. With a footfall of close to a lakh and being in one of the ‘hot zones’ buses and cars became the order of the day. There were ample watering holes for devotees to drink from if they felt thirsty.

Most felt it wiser to visit during the evenings when temperatures dropped, even if slightly.

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