Ambubachi Mela: a Festival in Assam That Celebrates the Menstruation of Mother Earth (Download PDF)

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Ambubachi Mela is annual mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam, that celebrates menstruation course of Goddess Kamakhya. It is four-day fair. Festival is known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ as it draws lakhs of devotees from all over world.

Image of Ambubachi Mela: a Festival in Assam

Image of Ambubachi Mela: a Festival in Assam

Image of Ambubachi Mela: a Festival in Assam

About Ambubachi Mela

  • Ambubachi Mela symbolises fertility cult of goddess Kamakhya.

  • There is no idol in temple, goddess is worshipped in form of yoni-like stone over which natural spring flows.

  • Goddess is Hindu tantric goddess of desire who evolved in Himalayan hills.

  • She is also known as Siddha Kubjika.

  • She is also identified as Kali and Maha Tripura.

Social Significance of Festival:

  • Ritualistic fair celebrating goddess’ period is one of reasons why taboo associated w/menstruation is less in Assam compared w/other parts of India.

  • Attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated w/ritual called ‘Tuloni Biya’, meaning small wedding.

  • Ambubachi Mela serves as occasion to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene.

  • Four-day festival begins on 4th day after goddess undergoes her annual periods.

  • Temple remains shut during those 3 days.

  • Ambubachi Mela in Guwahati is celebrated every year during monsoon season. In 2018, it begins on 22nd June & ends on 25th June.

Details on Kamakhya Temple

  • Kamakhya, atop Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, is one of 51 shaktipeeths or seat of Shakti followers, each representing body part of Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.

  • Sati, Lord Shiva’s wife, jumped into fire after her father insulted her husband. Carrying her corpse, Shiva performed Tandav Nritya. Place where parts of her body fell were formed in ‘Shakti Peeths’. Kamakhya Temple was formed where goddess’ womb & genitals fell.

  • Goddess goes thru her menstrual cycle every year in month of June. During those 3 days, devotees refrain from performing puja, farming, & reading holy books.

  • Not only Kamakhya temple but all temples in Assam are closed during those days & no religious activities are performed.

  • After 3 days, Goddess is bathed & other rituals are performed. On 4th day, doors of temple are reopened & Prasad is distributed.

  • Prasad is distributed in 2 forms – ‘Angodak’ & ‘Angabastra’. ‘Angodak’ means fluid part of body which is basically water from spring. While latter is called as ‘rakta bastra’ which is cloth soaked in menses of goddess.

  • Temple turns red during those 4 days. Colour red holds special importance during festival w/everything red from flowers to cloth.

  • Goddess is recognised as goddess of desire & fertility.

  • Temple got destroyed in 16th century. Later, King of Cooch rebuilt it. Temple has 4 prayer chambers – Garbagriha, Pancharatna, Calanta, & Natamandiramong.

  • Festival sees thousands of tantriks & sadhus in attendance from across world, displaying their psychic powers making extraordinary spectacle.

  • It is believed that during festival, goddess possesses supreme powers & hence tantrics & sadhus are seeing performing cult practices.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 18, 2018

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