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Sadhus at Ambubachi mela fervoured with football fever

GUWAHATI, 24 June-2014, Abdul Gani/TNN: Spiritual leaders and devotees from across the country and even overseas are thronging the Kamakhya temple on top of Neelachal hills in the city for the famous Ambubachi mela. But somewhere amid the spiritual fervour, sadhus have been affected by the football fever that has the world in its grip.

Sadhus at Ambubachi mela fervoured with football fever

Sadhus at Ambubachi mela fervoured with football fever
Photo: TOI


Football fever has reached the doorstep of the country’s highest seat of shakti (power), as it makes its red robed admirers do the ‘tiki taka’ at the revered shrine of Kamakhya. Congregating in large numbers for the annual fair, the sadhus are juggling meditation with their love for the game of football.

The courtyard of Kamakhya turns into a football ground with the sadhus here being stung by the World Cup fever. Although the prime reason for their being here from all over the world is to meditate and perform rituals for the attainment of knowledge and power, the sadhus are finding time to play the game.

“Football is a part of our lives. We have played the game in our neighbourhood since childhood and we watch football matches. Even now, when we get opportunity, we play. We are quite enjoying ourselves here along with fellow sadhus who also love the game,” said Parasuram Bhairabi, who is from West Bengal.

Photo: TOI

Clad in red, the sadhus occasionally turn the courtyard of the shrine into a small football ground where they gather and display their skills and love for the game. Be it dribble, juggle, kick or the more demanding header, these sadhus do it as smoothly as anybody.

The strong smell of cannabis, the shrill sound of the buffalo horn flute and cymbals make the atmosphere in this special stadium mesmerizing. Mystics who gather at the temple claim they can perform wonders – make a childless couple conceive, find a distressed loner a spouse or cast an evil spell. Some of these tantric babas appear before the public only during these four days. However, this year with the World Cup Football on, the sadhus have found time not only to watch their favourite team play but also relive the game that used to be their childhood passion.

“Besides Brazil and Argentina, I have been a supporter of Australia. I remember cheering for Argentina in 1986 and Maradona’s magical display. This time, I hope either Brazil or Argentina wins,” said Ratan Bhowmik, another sadhu from West Bengal. Bhowmik has been watching most of the World Cup matches. “I have been watching the matches at 9.30 pm and 12.30 am but the 3.30 am timing is a bit problematic,” he added.

The gates of the famous shrine closed to devotees and sadhus from June 22. They will reopen on June 26 for Ambubachi.

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