With the onset of Monsoon, the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam gears itself up for the annual Ambubachi Mela. This 3 day long festival is celebrated in the month of Ashaad or Ahaar (in Assamese) according to the Hindu calendar. Usually this festival is celebrated by the Hindus of this region from 22nd June/ 23rd June to 25th June/26th June every year.
Ambubachi or Ameti is revered as one of the most auspicious festivals of the country, especially in the north east. Pilgrims from different parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh throng the temple premises to seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya.
Brief History: Situated on the Nilachal hill, overseeing the mighty river Brahmaputra, the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati is one of the fifty-one Shakti Pithas. It is believed that the Yoni or the female genitalia of Sati had fallen there, when Lord Vishnu, through his Sudarshana Chakra, had severed the body of Sati into fifty-one parts to end the insanity of Lord Shiva. Since then it is worshipped as Maa Kamakhya and is considered to be one of the most powerful shrines among the Shakti Pithas.
The Ambubachi Mela signifies the menstruation of Mother Earth or Maa Kamakhya. During these 3 days the temple doors are closed to devotees. Keeping in sync with the Kamakhya temple, other temples in Guwahati also keep their doors shut for 3 consecutive days. The residents of the city also abstain from performing their daily Puja in their respective households and offices.
Only the priests of the Kamakhya temple are allowed to visit the holy shrine in these 3 days to bathe the Goddess and to worship her in a simple manner with only fruits as the offerings. The cloth of the Goddess is changed on daily basis and is given a bright red silk cloth due to her menstrual flow.
On the fourth day, the temple doors are reopened for the lakhs of devotees for Devi Darshan and to seek her blessings. The red clothes or the Rakhta Bastra placed on the shrine upon which the Goddess is believed to have sat in these 3 days has a high demand among the devotees and is considered to be very propitious.
The Ambubachi Mela also witnesses lakhs of Tantrics in and around the temple premises during this time of the year. For these Tantrics, Ambubachi is considered to have tremendous power where the Goddess is in her full fertile form and radiates immense energy.
Though the annual menstruation cycle of the Goddess is celebrated in a part of India but an open discussion on this topic or anything closely related to it is still a taboo in the Indian society. It is the only feminine power in any class of the animal kingdom which helps them to reproduce.
It is a myth created by the society that during her cycle a women should live in isolation as she is impure. A women going through her menstruation cycle is in her purest form.
It is a very important part of the female biological system and shying away from discussing the menstrual cycle is no solution to problems created by lack of menstruation hygiene or menstruation disorder.