|The Ambubachi Mela is an annual Hindu mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. |
This yearly Mela is celebrated during the monsoon season that happens to fall during the Assamese month Ahaar, around the middle of June when the sun transit to the zodiac of Mithuna, when the Brahmaputra river is in spate.
It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of the goddess Kamakhya.
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.
It is also believed that during the monsoon rains, the creative and nurturing power of the ‘menses’ of Mother Earth becomes accessible to devotees at this site during the meal.
There is no idol of the presiding deity but she is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone instead over which a natural spring flows.
|It is also believed that in the early 16th century, the Kamakhya temple got destroyed. However, it was rebuilt by the King of Cooch Behar and was designed in a rather unique way. The temple has four prayer chambers: Garbagriha, Calantha, Pancharatna, and Natamandiramong. |
The first and most important chamber leads to the sanctum of the temple which is in the form of a cave. Though the chamber does not house an idol or image of the goddess, there is a natural spring that resembles the womb of the goddess.
|The temple remains closed for three days during the meal for 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.
After three days Devi Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed to ensure that the Devi retrieves her purity. Then the doors of the temple are reopened and prasad is distributed. On the fourth day, the devotees are allowed to enter the temple and worship Devi Kamakhya.
In 2016, the dates of the Ambubachi festival were between 22 and 26 June. In 2017, the dates of the Ambubachi Mela were between 22 and 26 June.
|The prasad is distributed in two forms – Angodak and Angabastra. Angodak literally means the fluid part of the body – water from the spring and Angabastra literally means the cloth covering the body – a piece of the red cloth used to cover the stone yoni during the days of menstruation.|
|Every year lakhs of pilgrims, starting from Sadhus to householders, from all over India, come to Guwahati to observe this festival.|
They include Sanasins, black-clad Aghoras, the Khade-babas, the Baul, or singing minstrels of West Bengal, intellectual and folk Tantriks, Sadhus, and Sadhbis with long matted hair, etc.
Even foreigners from abroad come to seek blessings of mother Kamakhya.
|Ambubachi Mela is one of the biggest congregations in eastern India. |
It is the most important festival of the Kamakhya temple.
It is more of a ritual of austerities, a festival celebrated with Shakti rites.