Assam: Kamakhya temple buzzes with devotees during Durga Puja after 2 yrs gap
Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Assam’s famed Kamakhya temple, nestled atop the Nilachal hills, is buzzing with devotees as full-fledged Durga Puja festivities are underway after a lull of two years.

The hills remained silent during the last two years as the temple doors were closed for visitors even as all rituals associated with the fortnight-long worship of the goddess were performed on a rotational basis by a group of selected priests, Kamakhya Devalaya president Kabindra Sarma told PTI.

Kamakhya temple, revered as a major seat of Shakti worship, observes the annual Durga Puja rituals, locally known as ‘Pakhuvapuja’, for a fortnight or ‘paksa’ unlike the rest of the country where it is celebrated for 9-10 days.

“We are extremely happy that devotees are coming in large numbers to offer prayers and seek blessings of the goddess after two very difficult years,” he said.

Sarma said the devotees are coming not only from across the country but also from neighbouring Nepal.

For Aniket Pandey, a final semester engineering student, the visit to the temple was a long-awaited one.

“I am happy to seek the blessings of the goddess in a year when I am preparing for job placements,” he said.

Another devotee, Priyanka Sonowal from Dibrugarh, was planning a visit to the temple since she got married three years ago but COVID restrictions proved to be a hurdle.

“I and my family members are on our way to Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir but first, wanted to pay our obeisance to Maa Kamakhya,” she said.

“Durga Puja is a major festival of the temple and is believed to date back to antiquity with the exact date of its beginning not clearly established,” Sarma pointed out.

The most remarkable aspect of the puja is that there is no image of Goddess Durga but rituals are performed in the main ‘pitha’ or the sanctum sanctorum.

The Durga Puja in the temple begins on the ninth day of the waning of the moon or ‘Krsna Navami’ and ends on the ninth day of the waxing of the moon or ‘Sukla Navami’ of ‘Asvina’, and it usually falls between mid-September to mid-October, a former office-bearer of the Devalaya said.

“Priests perform the rituals in the early morning, fast during the day and cook for themselves only one meal a day within the temple premises, Prosenjit Sarmah, a priest or ‘doloi ‘,” he said.

“The rituals during the fortnight are observed in three phases — ‘Pratah Puja’ or morning rituals, ‘Madhyahna Puja’ or mid-day rituals and ‘Sahinna Puja’ or the evening rituals — with the temple doors opening for devotees after the morning puja,” he added.

Among other significant rituals are the ‘Khadga Puja’ or the worship of the sacrificial knife used for animal sacrifice and the ‘Trishulini Puja’ or worship of Devi’s trident.

Sacrificial offerings to the goddess begin with the ‘Saptami Puja’ or seventh day, which falls on Sunday, and continue till ‘Navami’ or a day before the festivities end, Sarma said.

Gourds, pumpkins, fish, goats, pigeons and buffaloes are sacrificed before being ceremoniously worshipped.

In ‘Trisulini Puja’, a life-size human figure made of flour is sacrificed at midnight before the Devi as a substitute to the ancient tradition of human sacrifice during which only the main priest and the ‘bolikata’ or the executioner are present.

Another important ritual is the ‘Kumari Puja’ or the worship of young girls. It begins with the worship of one girl on the first day and the number increases by one with each passing day.

“On the penultimate day of the festivities, the ‘Purnahuti’ or the concluding rite is performed followed by ‘Devimatrika Puja’ that must be completed before midnight and on the last day, the rituals conclude with the ‘Jaya-Vijaya’ and ‘Aparajita’ pujas,” Sarma added.

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