Know the Goddess who bleeds!

New Delhi: It’s difficult to make your way through the bustling crowd at the normally serene Kamakhya Temple in Assam during the Ambubachi Mela. Almost every square inch of the ground is covered with crimson-clad devotees who sing, chant, meditate and shout their devotion to the Divine Mother.

This year, the festival began from June 22 and will end on June 26.

Ambubachi Mela, also referred to as the Tantric Fertility Festival, is a yearly four-day festival celebrated during the monsoon season. It is by far, the most important Hindu religious festival of Assam.

It is believed that during these four days, Devi Kamakhya – an incarnate of the Mother Earth (Shakti) – goes through her annual cycle of menstruation.

The word “Ambubachi” comes from the Sanskrit word “ambuvaci” which means “the issuing forth of water” referring to the swelling of the Earth’s waters from the onset of monsoon.

For many such Tantric Babas, these four days are the only times they make public appearances; the rest of the year, they remain in isolation. Some are seen displaying their psychic powers.

The temple gates are closed to the general public, providing the traditional menstrual seclusion, but the premises are crammed with devotees from all over the country. The devotees aren’t allowed to cook, perform puja or read holy books during these three days. They wait for the temple doors to open on the fourth day, when the Devi is bathed and given a red silk cloth in consideration of her menstrual flow. It is believed that the Devi thus reclaims her purity.

However, during these days, the regular custom of sacrificing goats and buffaloes doesn’t halt. Irrespective of Goddess’ purdah, the offerings in the form of sacrificial animals increase owing to the unprecedented influx of devotees. The cries of quivering goats and wailing buffaloes echoes against the temple walls.

Unlike any other regular day, the Kamakhya Temple atop the Nilachal Hills bubbles with energy, lakhs of devotees from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and some from other countries as well have the premises packed. There are families, black-clad aghoris, sannyasis in orange-robes, and even foreign tourists.

Amidst torrential rain, hash-filled smoke and incessant babble of the lakhs of humans, one can find baul singers, Hatha yogis with long matted hair, chillum-smoking saints, sannyasis, beggars and mimics lost in their worlds trying to please the Mother Earth.

Between 100,000 to 150,000 devotees reside at the Kamakhya Temple ground and in the adjacent areas and between 50,000 to 100,000 visit the Temple every day during the four-day festival.

 

Quick Read:

– Ambubachi Mela is organised at Kamakhya Temple which is said to be the ‘birthplace of Earth’. It is one among the oldest 52 shakti peethas of India.

– There is no image of Shakti here. However, a sculptured image of the yoni of the goddess is kept, which is the object of reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist.

– According to Kalika Purana each and every sand particle near Kamakhya is a Shakti Peeth.

– It is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her yearly menstrual cycle during the Ambubachi days.  Hence Ambubachi Mela is organised every year during monsoon.

– During Ambubachi Mela the temple remains closed for first three days – the menstruation period. Devotees neither worship nor read holy books. Farmers do not plough the land even.

– The entire Shakti shrine seems obsessed by colour red. Everywhere you hear chants of “Prithibi Rajashala Hoi” (Mother earth is menstruating).

– After three days Maa Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed. Buffalo and goat sacrifices are also done to please Maa Kamakhya.

– On fourth day, temple doors are reopened and Prasad is distributed. Lakhs of devotees visit to have glimpse and pray to Maa Kamakhya.

– The Ambubachi festival is closely related to the Tantric cult and is also known as Kamkhya Devi Puja. Devotees come from far off places to meet the Tantric Sadhus and take their blessings.

- The fest is witnessed by lakhs of devotees from all over the world and so it is known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’.

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