Come monsoon, around mid-June, it is celebration and special worship time at Kamakhya Temple which is located in Guwahati, Assam. Goddess Kamakhya, who is the presiding deity at the temple, also called Goddess Kameshwari or the Goddess of desire, potency and fertility, is worshipped and adored every year in a four days long fair known as the Ambubachi Mela.
What is so special about this four-day fair? Well, it is one of its kind where the Goddess is worshipped specifically on those days which are believed to be the menstruation period of Mother Earth. The popular fair which attracts lakhs of devotees to this holy abode of the Goddess, celebrates the annual cycle of menstruation of the Goddess.
India, a land of many temples fascinates people all over the world with incredible traditions, rituals and festivals. It is enthralling to know the history and significance behind the rituals and ceremonies that are carried on, most of them since ancient times, in many of the temples and in unique ways.
Kamakhya temple which stands atop the Nilachal hills, is one among such holy shrines, where the popular Ambubachi Mela takes place every year drawing crowds not only from the nearby locality but from all over the country and some from other countries as well.
Kamakhya temple is one of the Shaktipeeths where the 'yoni' of Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a stone in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The Goddess fondly called as 'Maa Kamakhya' by devotees is known to be the ultimate source of desires and also the one who fulfils the desires.
And Ambubachi Mela is that time of the year when the Goddess is believed to be menstruating. The word 'Ambubachi' has its roots in Sanskrit and is derived from the word 'Ambuvachi' which means 'the issuing forth of water'. Ambubachi is also known typically as Amthihsua, Ameti, Amoti, Ambabati.
The closing of the temple at this time marks the start of this fair and this goes on for three days. On the fourth day, the Goddess is bathed followed by some rituals after which the door to the temple is opened for devotees to pray and worship and be blessed by the Goddess.
The temple witnesses major footfall during these days as devotees throng to witness the grandeur and powerful aura that surround the temple on these special days. The devotees of Devi Kamakhya which include sadhus, sanyasis, aghoris and tourists apart from the regular devotees travel from different places to be with their beloved mother on these days when she is believed to be in a state of heightened energy.
Many of these devotees reside outside the temple for three days chanting, meditating, praying and singing the glories of the Goddess until they get the special 'darshan' and blessings of Devi Kamakhya on the fourth day. Following the darshan, the holy prasad which the devotees receive as a blessing is known as 'Rakta Bastra', a red cloth which is used to cover the stone 'yoni' during the three days. This holy piece of cloth is considered sacred and beneficial to the one wearing it; it is generally tied around one's arm or wrist.
The exuberant devotees soaked in deep love, devotion and dedication for the Goddess contribute to the unique atmosphere of the temple, which is high in spirit and energy during these significant days. As such, the spirit of Ambubachi Mela surmounts the entire city where all the other temples remain closed and most of the households follow restrictions on performing normal or regular worship and doing other religious activities for three days. It is a way of showing their love and reverence for the Divine Mother.