- Ambubachi Mela, a four-day fair to mark the annual menstruation of the goddess at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam, has begun.
- The Ambubachi Mela is an annual mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam, that celebrates the menstruation course of Goddess Kamakhya.
- Also known as Siddha Kubjika, the goddess is a Hindu tantric goddess of desire who evolved in the Himalayan hills.
- She is also identified as Kali and Maha Tripura. The festival is also known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ as it draws lakhs of devotees from all over the world.
Mythological belief and traditions of Kamakhya temple
- According to a legend, Sati, Lord Shiva’s wife, jumped into the fire after her father insulted her husband. Carrying her corpse, Shiva performed Tandav Nritya.
- The place where the parts of her body fell were formed in ‘Shakti Peeths’. Kamakhya Temple was formed where the goddess’ womb and genitals fell.
- The goddess goes through her menstrual cycle every year in the month of June. During those three days, devotees refrain from performing puja, farming and reading holy books.
- Not only Kamakhya temple but all the temples in Assam are closed during those days and no religious activities are performed.
- After three days, the Goddess is bathed and other rituals are performed. On the fourth day, the doors of the temple are reopened and Prasad is distributed.
- The Prasad is distributed in two forms – Angodak and Angabastra. Angodak means the fluid part of the body which is basically water from the spring. While the latter is also called as ‘rakta bastra’ which is cloth soaked in the menses of the goddess.
- The temple turns red during those four days. The colour red holds special importance during the festival with everything red from flowers to cloth.
- The goddess is also recognised as the goddess of desire and fertility.
- The temple got destroyed in the 16th century. Later, King of Cooch rebuilt it.
- Because of repeated constructions and renovations over years, the temple got hybrid indigenous style that is called the Nilachal type, i.e. a temple with a hemispherical dome on a cruciform base.
- The temple has four prayer chambers – Garbagriha, Pancharatna, Calanta, and Natamandiramong.
- Kamakhya temple is located atop Nilachal Hills in Guwahati.
- There is no idol in the temple and the goddess is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone over which a natural spring flows.
Why the taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared with other parts of India?
- The ritualistic fair celebrating the goddess’ period is one of the reasons why the taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared with other parts of India.
- The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called ‘Tuloni Biya’, meaning small wedding.
Note- Ambubachi Mela is also an occasion to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene.