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Hindu monks exhibit mystical powers at Kamakhya

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS 

Guwahati : One stands on a leg for hours while another buries his head in a pit while doing a headstand… thousands of Hindu seers from across the Indian subcontinent are showing their psychic powers at a religious festival that opened here Friday.

For these monks, the Ambubachi Mela, a four-day Hindu ritual that began at the Kamakhya temple in Assam's main city Guwahati, is the time to exhibit their mystical powers before thousands of devotees.

More than 10,000 monks have converged here from across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, besides at least a dozen Westerners.

"We are expecting about 800,000 devotees during the next four days," said Dipak Sharma, a temple trust member.

"The idea of exhibiting our spiritual skills is to show the people that mysticism is not a thing to be written off as many modern day reformists argue. These are powers acquired over the years through deep meditation and direct contact with god," Ram Baba, a sadhu or monk from Kolkata, told IANS.

Ram Baba belongs to the secret Aghor cult, whose adherents meditate in graveyards at night.

The Kamakhya temple has long been considered the highest seat of Tantricism, a sort of black magic that has been an integral part of India's folklore for centuries.

Devotees apart, tourists from far and wide haunt this temple for its structural architecture – it is a cave, where on a block of stone the symbol of yoni (in Hinduism, a representation of the female genitals regarded as a manifestation of the feminine principle) is carved, while a natural spring always keeps the yoni moist.

There are stone edicts in the temple precincts mentioning the contributions made for the promotion and preservation of Mother Goddess Kamakhya by kings of different lineages dating back to 1526 AD.

Mystics who gather at the temple claim they can perform wonders – make a childless couple conceive, find a distressed loner a spouse, or even cast an evil spell on others.

"The Kamakhya temple is a different world altogether – a paranormal world where most of the sadhus are capable of doing miracles what most people would like to dismiss such claims as rubbish," said Kailash, a frail looking man, his body smeared with ashes and sporting a long beard.

Kailash belongs to a sect called 'Naga sadhus' – often they are people who gave up on worldly life and live a life of severe penance wearing virtually nothing.

These naked sadhus belonged to the non-Vedic or pre-Aryan religion which flourished long before the Vedic religion was introduced into India. Some of the sadhus who have assembled here for the ritual are much sought after.

"I have come to offer my respects to Bhola Baba who blessed me to conceive and bear a child," explained Minakshi Paul, a housewife from Orissa.

Paul said she heard about the Baba from some relatives and visited Kamakhya in 2005 during the Ambubachi Mela – the couple was childless for eight years.

"It was a miracle of sorts. Baba made me drink some whisky poured into a monkey skull after chanting some hymns and said I would surely be able to conceive," she said.

And by 2006 September, a baby girl was born. Blessings apart, many people approach sadhus to cast evil spells on their adversaries.

"More than 90 percent of the people approach us to harm their foes. I am capable of doing anything although I go by my conscience when such requests come," Bhola Baba said while showering blessings on a stream of childless couples.