A view of Kamakhya Temple during Ambubachi Mela
A view of Kamakhya Temple during Ambubachi Mela

Ambubachi Mela: Celebrating Divine Menstruation

Ambubachi Mela is one of the unique fairs hosted in India, where millions of Tantrics and Sadhus gather near the temple premises from all over the country and perform a series of rituals.

June 24, 2023

Ambubachi Mela, a unique annual fair held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, celebrates the divine menstruation cycle of Goddess Kamakhya and attracts millions of devotees, Tantrics, and Sadhus from all over India.

The festival is one of the primary attractions of Guwahati, the gateway to northeast India.

With the abode of Goddess Kamakhya, an incarnation of Goddess Durga, situated in this historic city, Guwahati is thus is also a gateway to divinity and spirituality.

Kamakhya Temple, perched atop Nilachal Parbat or Kamagiri in the heart of Guwahati, is one of the oldest among the 51 "Shakti Peethas."

This temple stands as a significant religious landmark, reflecting Assam's rich cultural, religious, and historical heritage. Alongside the main Devi temple, it includes other major temples dedicated to Devi Kali, Bagala, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, and Dhumavati.

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An old myth from the mythological era claims that Goddess Parvati gave her life by immolating herself in the fire during a "Yajna" ceremony that her father Daksha organised. Daksha's refusal to invite Parvati and Lord Shiva to the ceremony and Lord Shiva's public insult triggered this extreme step.

The news of his wife’s death outraged Lord Shiva and he went to the Yajna ceremony, picked up Parvatis’s corpse, and performed Tandava- the dance of destruction.

The intensity of Lord Shiva’s fury and the Tandava was so prodigious that earth was on the verge of destruction. In response, Lord Vishnu, upon the plea of other gods, used his chakra to sever Parvati's body, with each piece falling in different parts of the country, now revered as the various Shakti Peethas. The reproductive part of Goddess Parvati landed on Nilachal Parbat, where the Kamakhya Temple stands today.

The temple comprises four prayer chambers: Garbagriha, Calanta, Pancharatna, and Natamandiramong. The first chamber, resembling a cave, holds utmost significance as it houses a natural spring symbolising the Goddess's womb.

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Every year, during the Assamese month of Aahaar, around mid-June following the first monsoon rains, the Brahmaputra turns blood-red and it is believed that the Goddess bleeds which embarks the onset of the yearly menstruation cycle of Goddess Kamakhya.

An annual fair called the "Ambubachi Mela" is held during this period, and the temple doors remain closed for three days, and even agricultural work like digging, ploughing, and sowing crops is prohibited.

The temple doors open on the fourth day. Many devotees rush to get the holy "Prasad", a small piece of red cloth assumed to be soaked in the menstrual blood of Goddess Kamakhya and believed to bring good luck and charm.

It is said that because of this religious fair celebrating a "Goddess who bleeds", a girl attaining womanhood is celebrated in this region with a small function called "Tuloni Biya".

Ambubachi Mela is one of the unique fairs hosted in India, where millions of Tantrics and Sadhus gather near the temple premises from all over the country and perform a series of rituals.

Some Sadhus who do not make any public appearances throughout the year visit the temple during this period. Besides, this time is also considered auspicious for women praying for fertility and celebrating their childbearing capabilities.

Assam is thus called the "Land of the Red River", and the Maa Kamakhya Temple, with its inexplicable splendour and picturesque backdrop, is one of the most astounding structures in Assam and the entire country.

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