Guwahati, June 13: The world-famous Kamakhya temple--situated on the Nilachal hills in Guwahati, Assam--is gearing up for the annual Ambubachi Mela, scheduled to kick-start on June 22.
The five-day-long Mela (fair), hosted to observe the annual menstrual cycle of goddess Kamakhya, attracts lakhs of devotees and tourists from various corners of the world. However, this time before the start of the colourful fair a controversy has erupted.
The decision of the authorities to ban the entry of Naga (Nude) sadhus, who have been a part of the fair for centuries, inside the main premises of the temple during the event period has left these monks mighty upset.
In fact, the temple authorities have decided to arrange a separate zone for the Naga sadhus, the followers of Lord Shiva, far away from the main temple, so that visitors don't have to encounter them in the main premises.
The authorities, both from the temple and the district administration, say that these sadhus, who wear no clothes and usually smear their bodies with ashes, cause "embarrassment" to the visitors and thus they have decided on implementing the ban.
"This type of spiritualism will not be allowed at the main venue of the fair from this year. Many people visit the temple premises during the fair with their families and they feel uncomfortable at the sight of these sadhus at the main venue. So from this year we have decided not to allow them to move around in the main venue. Instead, we will arrange a separate place for them," the head priest of the Kamakhya temple, Pabindra Prasad Sarma Doloi, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
"No procession by Naga sadhus will be allowed on the temple premises this time," he added.
However, one more reason behind the restrictions on entry of sadhus in the temple is that these monks indulge in drug abuse. Authorities said the Naga sadhus have been found consuming drugs and alcohol during previous fairs. Last year, the entire area of Kamakhya temple was declared a no-nicotine zone.
Expressing anger over the ban, a sadhu said, "They (government) don't do anything for us and now we have to face restrictions here. Naga sadhus are part of Kamakhya since ancient times. But now some people are trying to prevent us from doing the rituals at the temple. No one can stop us from doing what we do."