No Ambubachi Mela at Kamakhya Temple
this year (June 2020) due to COVID-19
Kamakhya Temple is one amongst the holiest shrines throughout India. Perched on Nilanchal Hill in Kamrup district of Assam, Kamakhya Mandir is easily accessible at a stretch of 8 kms from Guwahati. The temple commemorates Hindu Goddess Sati in her aspect of Kamakhya Devi. Goddess Kamakhya is also known as Sodashi in the local region.
Kamakhya Temple is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. As per the legends, during the time of self-sacrifice, the genital organ (yoni) of Sati fell at this spot. Kamakhya Mandir is a natural cave with a spring. In order to reach the temple, one has to take a flight of steps that goes down into a dark and strange shrine. There is no concrete form of goddess inside the temple.
In the shrine, Kamakhya Devi, in the form of genital organ (yoni), presides as a big crevice in the bedrock. The Goddess is covered naturally by a rivulet of water gushing upward from an underground spring. The crevice is usually covered with sari, flowers and vermilion powder (Sindoor). The temple had been an ancient sacrificial site and till date, sacrifices are offered here. Every morning, group of devotees come to sacrifice goats.
The temple is very much ancient in its origin, yet it was restructured in 1665, when it was attacked by the Muslim invaders. The effort of this reconstruction was made by King Nar Narayan of Cooch, Bihar. The spire of this temple is shaped like a beehive. Besides Kamakhya Devi, there are images of Ganesha, Chamundeswari and various dancing sculptures. In the temple, an image of the King and related inscriptions are visible.
Essentially, the Goddess 'Kamakhya' is believed to be the granter of desires. In traditional terms, Assam is known as 'Kamarupa Desa', a place that is associated with Tantric practices and worship of Shakti. In Kalika Purana (an ancient scripture), Kamakhya is referred as the goddess who fulfills all desires, the bride of Lord Shiva and the benefactor of salvation.
During the occasion of Navratri (Sep-Oct), a three day festival attracts thousands of pilgrims. This festival is known as Ambuvaci (Ameti), which is unique with its own significance. For the duration of this fertility festival, the Goddess is said to undergo her menstrual period. At this point of time, the temple is closed for three days and before closing, white sheets are draped inside the temple.
When the temple is opened after three days, the sheets are found red in color. On the fourth day, great festivity is observed. Devotees from far and near, come to visit this temple at this juncture of the festival. The red sheets are torn into pieces and distributed amongst the devotees. Kamakhya Temple is a prominent pilgrimage site that attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year.
No Ambubachi Mela at Kamakhya Temple this year
(June 2020) due to COVID-19
The Ambubachi Mela is the most important festival of Kamakhya temple celebrated in the month of June 3rd week (Ahaar month in Assamese). The Ambubachi Mela is unique with its own significance. It is believed that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this time stretch.
Ambubachi Mela is held at the Kamakhya temple, after being closed for the afore-mentioned three days. The goddess Kamakhya is given a bath and purified on the fourth day. The temple reopens on the fourth day and the devotees are allowed to enter inside the temple for worship. Thousands of devotees from all over the country and abroad visit this Ambubachi Mela.
It is believed that mother earth becomes unclean for three days like the traditional women's menstrual seclusion. During these three days some restrictions are observed by the devotees like not cooking, not performing puja or reading holy books, no farming etc.
The festival is held every year to commemorate the yearly menstruation of Goddess Kamakhya. It is also said that during the month of mid-June, which is also an Ahar, there is a natural spring which flows through the yoni.
During Ambubachi, it’s important to allow Mother to rest. Every day we are asking Her for things, so on this day we serve Her rather than asking Her to serve us. In the United States, this concept is similar to Mother’s Day, when we pamper our mothers in some way to let them know how much we love and appreciate them.
Ambubachi can be difficult to place on the calendar if you’re not familiar with calculating the North Indian calendar, as it does not reliably align with common lunar events such as amavasya or purnima. It is generally celebrated close to the summer solstice on the seventh day of the month of Ashadha (Ashara in Assam), which typically falls on June 21 or 22 and ends around June 25 or 26.