The discovery of a man's severed head on a road leading to the ancient Kamakhya temple created quite a sensation in this Assam's major city Friday, and police said t could be a case of human sacrifice.
The head was found in a plastic bag along with a piece of paper that had religious hymns written on it.
"The head is yet to be identified. We have inquired in the locality and confirmed that the deceased is not a local," said an official at the Jalukbari police station, adding that a search is on to trace the body.
"It could be a case of human sacrifice but it's too early to comment. Our first job is to identify the deceased," said the police official. The crime has been committed at some other place and then the head was brought here, he added.
"There was no blood stain in the area, which indicates that the crime of beheading the person was committed somewhere else," the official said.
Police did not rule out human sacrifice considering past cases, such as one in 2003 when temple security personnel had foiled an attempt by a man to sacrifice his one-and-half-year-old baby girl.
Like many other ancient temples in Assam, the Kamakhya shrine also had a history of human sacrifice. A 1933 edition of the journal of the Assam Research Society says people were sacrificed at the temple till the early 18th century in Assam.
The Kamakhya temple, which is believed to have been built between 350 and 1140 AD, is one of the most revered Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the 51 holy 'Shakti Peethams', associated with the aspect of the Hindu Goddess Sati, the first consort of Lord Shiva.
Legend has it that following the destruction of King Daksha's sacrifice and the 'Rudra Tandava' of Lord Shiva, parts of Sati's body fell at several places throughout India, and these places are revered as Shakti Peethams. The reproductive organ of Sati - the 'Yoni' - is said to have fallen at the place where the Kamakhya temple stands today.
As per the records of the temple authority, around 4,000 pilgrims visit the shrine every weekday. The number of pilgrims goes beyond 5,000 on holidays.