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Ambubachi: Unique fair in India that celebrates menstruation of Deity or Mother Earth


Guwahati, June 20: The temple door of the famed Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam remains closed for three to four days on the occasion of the annual 'Ambubachi Mela'. The temple that perched on top of the Ninanchal hill is one of the most famous tourist destinations of the state.

Although, 'Ambubachi' festival is the celebration of goddess Kamakhya's menstruation but infact it is the menstruation of the entire Mother Earth. Yet, Kamakhya remains the prime focal point of the festivities since it is the seat of Goddess's yoni(genitals). During this period, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is closed for four days to visitors, to accord privacy to the menstruating deity.

Ambubachi: Unique fair in India that celebrates menstruation of Deity or Mother Earth

It is believed that Mother Earth cannot be impure, and that this is a time of potency and reflection.

Devotees of all varieties from across India and it's neighbouring countries like- Nepal, Bangladesh, and a few from other countries have started to throng the city of Guwahati, Assam, to be at goddess Kamakhya's feet during this occassion. From regular families to black-clad aghoris, Bauls, sadhus, sannyasinis, khade babas, foreign pilgrims, this time of year calls to those who adore the Divine Mother and wish to be close to the Goddess during Her most potent and sacred time.

The red robes sadhu's and their long matted hair, different types of chillums, blow-horns made of rhino horn, and the constant hum of hymns, chants and songs give the place the feel of a spiritual carnival.

Significantly, this occasion also connects Bengal. People in homes and temples do not worship their family deities, and cover them with a cloth. Widows keep follow a different food diet- they don't have any kind of cooked food. During these four days they only eat fruits and uncooked Sago.

Being the yoni of Devi, and the Goddess here being intimately connected to the matriarchal tribes of these hills for thousands of years. For devotees Ambubachi is a time of tremendous power and celebration. It is believed, during the menstruation period, the fertility of mother earth increases. As per fact, it may be so, because the monsoons arrive around this time and this leads to a boost in fertility. Farmers stop tilling land during this time, as it is believed that it amounts to disturbing menstruating mother earth.

Legend has it that Sati jumped into fire after her father insulted Shiva, who then performed the tandava while carrying Sati's burnt body. If Shiva would've completed the tandava, the universe would've been destroyed. In order to stop him from doing so, Vishnu released his Sudharshan chakrathat split Sati's body parts. The Kamakhya Temple was built where the goddess's womb and genitals fell. This is why the temple is counted as one among the 51 Shakti Peethas of Hindu Mythology - each peetha built where one of the body parts of Sati had fallen during the tandav.

It is believed that in the early 16th century, Kamakhya temple got demolished by Mughal general Kalapahar. However, it was rebuilt by the King of Cooch Behar and was designed in a rather unique way.

On the fourth day or the final day of the Ambubachi Mela when the temple is opened for the devotees, everyone look forward to receiving a piece of cloth soaked in what's said to be the goddess's menstrual fluid. It's believed that the sacred cloth is serene and holy. Undoubtedly, the Ambubachi Mela is one of the unique fairs hosted in India.

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