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By Rajiv Malik, New Delhi A


ssam, one of the “seven sisters” states of northeastern India, is fa- mous for its Vaishnava 1


gious centers) and majestic ancient


temples, including Kamakhya for the God- dess Shakti and Sivasagar, built by the Ahom dynasty in the 18th century. The name 1- 1


ers ascribe it to [ ö


the Tai language, ö [1 (“land of the Bodo people”) or 1


skrit. In ancient times the area was known as Kamarupa. The Pandava brothers of the # ö õö


lived and married here while


in exile. Assam is 61% Hindu, 34% Muslim, 3.7%


Christian plus a small number of Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. It is home to all the three main streams of Hinduism: Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Saivism—this among a popu- lation of 31 million people comprising hun- dreds of tribal, ethnic, linguistic and religious communities speaking 45 languages. Of the 20 largest tribes, the most prominent are the Bodos and Misings of Tibeto-Burmese origin.


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There are also millions of Bangladeshi illegal migrants, both Hindu and Muslim. Assam is blessed with an abundance of natural re- sources, including tea, silk, oil and the mighty Brahmaputra River. Hinduism Today assigned me and pho-


tographer Thomas Kelly the challenging job ^


5 õ 3 33 3 33 ôL Rô 3 3 ô ô


days. Assam is a complex topic to report on, so we have divided our report into two 3K + ô ^ 3 L


tal, Guwahati, and the regions around it; the second, in the July/August/September 2017 issue, will cover Dibrugarh, the tea country and Majuli island.


Kamakhya Temple The most famous temple of Assam is that of Ma Kamakhya, situated on the Nilachal Hill in a western part of


Ma Kamakhya Dham: Famed Home of the Goddess -


Guwahati. It is an age-old seat of tantric cul- ture and one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peeths, centers for the Goddess. There are many legends associated with the origin and building of the temple. It attracts two mil- lion devotees and a large number of tantrics during an annual festival celebrated here known as Ambubachi Mela. Though there were no special activities the


day we visited with our guide, Nitai Das of Ekal Vidyalaya schools, the place was over- flowing with pilgrims. Security was tight, õ


^ 3 Sô Sô ô ô 5ô U 3 ô consideration as journalists. Fortunately, the


is possibly based on ö , though oth- (“undefeated”) from


(“peerless”) from San- 1 (reli-


Siliguru Corridor


20 hinduism today april/may/june, 2017


thomas l kelly


hinduism today


google earth


ASSAM


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