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Hindu Temple Kamakhya questions the Dominant Religious Legacies against Menstrual Blood

What are we to make out of the Ambubachi Mela, where the goddess Kamakhya herself bleeds?

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Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati
The Sikharas of the Kamakhya Temple. Guwahati. Wikimedia
  • Kamakhya is one of the 51 Shakti peeth located in India
  • Kamakhya temple celebrates annual menstruation festival in monsoon
  • This year the festival commenced from 22 June to 25 June

June 24, 2017:

At the onset of Monsoon and water dripping from the skies, five kilometres away from Guwahati, Kamakhya temple celebrates annual menstruation festival which is considered as pious as the monsoon in this Hindu practice. The fair is called Ambubachi Mela and what is worshipped is not the image of the deity but rather a process – menstruation.

The rituals are a blend of two natural phenomena which we discern distinctive of each other. The seasonal cycle of monsoon merges with female physiology, women’s monthly menstrual flow and both the bodies of mother earth and female are a representation of admiration.

Kamakya Temple History 
Kamakhya is one of the 51 Shakti peeth that are strewn across the geographical length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. There exists a grieving tale of Lord Shiva behind the origination of the Kamakhya-
Sati, wife of Lord Shiva returned to her home on the occasion of ritual prayer performed by her father Dakshin, even though the duo was not invited for the holy practice. When her father condemned Shiva and publicly scorned her husband, Sati immolated herself in the sacrificial fire.
The Devi defied her father in the choice of her husband spoiled the sacrifice by despoiling it with her body. The anguished shiva trotted the sky with her anger as he dropped the remains of her beloved Sati on to the earth. Kamakhya is thus considered the peeth where her yoni (genitals) descended. The temple dwells idol in the form of yoni like the stone over which a natural spring flows.

This Mela is otherwise called Ameti or Tantric fertility festival since it is nearly connected with Tantric Shakti clique pervasive in eastern parts of India.

A Tantrik Aesthetic, Kamakhya Temple. Wikimedia

Indeed, even some Tantric Babas show up just amid these four days. Whatever is left of the year, they stay in isolation. A few Babas are seen showing their psychic forces like putting their heads in a pit and stand upright on it, remaining on one leg for a considerable length of time at an extend.

Women have continually succumbed at the helm of patriarchy ideology and oppression rather than any deliverance of the spiritual guidelines for them. Traditionally, women’s menstrual blood has always been considered polluted, defiling and kept at bay from all scared things. Where goddess with menstrual cycle is worshipped in Hinduism, ironically the status of women is deemed low in India. What are we to make out of the Ambubachi Mela, where the goddess Kamakhya herself bleeds?


– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

 

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Kambubachi Mela: Scores of Devotees gather in Nilachal hill in Guwahati

The state government and the tourism department are keen on projecting the Kamakhya temple on the spiritual map of the country, for obvious reasons

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  • Just like any other year, this year also saw a large number of devotees and tourists gathering at the annual Ambubachi Mela in Nilachal hill
  • The state government and the tourism department are keen on projecting the Kamakhya temple on the spiritual map of the country
  • This year, for the first time, the temple authorities last week declared not to allow naga (naked) sadhus on the temple premises

Guwahati, June 23, 2017:  The annual Ambubachi Mela has been inaugurated by Assam chief minister on June 21. The grand gathering is being projected by the state government on the country’s tourism map, as tantriks, sadhus and devotees from different parts of the country have started coming together here at the Kamakhya temple on top of Nilachal hill.

Officially inaugurating the four-day festival at Sonaram School playground at Bharalumukh, Sonaowal says, “The Kamakhya temple is a part of Assam’s identity in the country and abroad. It is one of the biggest centres of spiritual culture. We are taking steps to promote it and ensure that more and more people come. Last year, nearly 10 lakh devotees came and we expect more this year.”

Devotees from Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and many other parts of the country have visited the temple premises before the door closes the next morning. The temple remains shut for four days as devotees believe that goddess Kamakhya undergoes her annual menstrual cycle.

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In conversation with The Telegraph, Debashish Biswas, a devotee from Malda in Bengal said, “This is my second visit to the mela and hope to have a glimpse of Ma Kamakhya once the door reopens on Monday morning.” Biswas, visiting with his wife Debashree, added,  “I got married four years ago but we don’t have a baby yet. Many people told me that a visit to Kamakhya thrice in a row helps and we have come here to pray to Ma.”

Kamakhya temple is considered to be one of the 51 sacred shakti peths in the country and the devotees have been associating beliefs like these for ages with the holy shrine that have attracted tourists and enthusiasts to the mela at Kamakhya temple.

The temple has a very significant origin story associated with mythical King Daksha and his son-in-law Shiva. According to legends, His daughter Sati, married Shiva against her father’s wishes. Sati’s actions angered Daksha who invited all the gods to a yagna, except his son-in-law Shiva who he did not approve of. Sati, who attended the yagna only to be more humiliated by her father, plunged into the sacrificial fire of the yagna. An angered Shiva held Sati’s charred body and broke into the tandava nritya, the legendary dance of destruction. The supreme God Vishnu had to step in and in order to save the three worlds from an impending doom, used his sudarshan chakra and cut Sati’s body into pieces. As Shiva carried Sati’s body in sorrow, a part of Sati’s body fell on the Nilachal Hills and that is why the hill turned blue. This hill and the sacred temple is believed to have special abilities and the energy of creation. Also, according to the Kalika purana, Kamakhya temple marks the spot where Sati used to retire in secret with Shiva.

ALSO READ: Goddess Bonbibi: Here is Why this Goddess in Sunderban unites both Hindus and Muslims!

For a long time the mela has remained mostly a religious congregation, but this year the BJP government has big plans to attract enthusiasts. A lot of thought is being put into transforming it into one of the biggest centers of religious tourism in India. A strong promotional campaign has been launched on social media as well.

Not only the nearly 10 lakh devotees and tantriks, interested tourists and researchers from various parts of the country and nations like the UK, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Nepal, Bangladesh and others as well gathered at the temple last year. The list of VIPs who attended included big names like BJP chief Amit Shah, chief ministers of nine states, ministers, MPs and religious leaders who have been invited for the first time to this mela, among others.

Other than the 3.2km motorable road, there are three staircases that the devotees can climb to reach the Kamakhya temple and several other ancient shrines on Nilachal hills. An interesting tour package has been launched by the tourism department this year that offers exciting experiences for the tourists and devotees, such as tents on Nilachal hills and a river cruise on the Brahmaputra during Ambubachi mela, as part of its plan to mark a permanent spot for Kamakhya on the spiritual tourism map of the country.

This year, for the first time, the temple authorities last week declared not to allow naga (naked) sadhus on the temple premises. They believe such sights might create an awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere for devotees with families.

“Efforts were on to construct another road to reach the temple from Pandu on the western side of of Nilachal hills. We are planning to start a water taxi facility from Kamakhya temple to Umanand temple to fulfil the wishes of devotees,” Tourism minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

 

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Assam: Gateway to Northeast!

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By Akash Shukla

With thousands of hectares under tea cultivation and an impressive 35 per cent under forest cover, this place is predominantly symbolic of one color-green. Ambitiously occupying 2.39 per cent of India’s landmass, Assam is the most vibrant of eight states that comprise the Northeast.

In close proximity with West Bengal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, its topographical asymmetry is underpinned by Barail hill range. This range is sandwiched between two valleys- Brahmaputra and Barak.

Assam is synonymous with breathtaking natural beauty, teeming wildlife, immaculate tea gardens, and warm, beautiful people.

The state’s strategic location in the northeast of India and its reach from the rest of the country makes it the gateway to the northeastern states.

With five national parks that include the world heritage sites of Kaziranga and Manas and home to 20 Wildlife sanctuaries, the state goes beyond in its celebration and relishes the presence of its most famous denizen, one-horned rhinoceros.

Many-a-century bear witness to people of diverse religious, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. They have been attracted to the sylvan valleys of Assam and evidently made it a mosaic of various cultures.

It wouldn’t be a wonder to call Assam a miniature version of the entire country.
Beyond tourism, Assam is also a symbolic pinnacle Indian religious heritage.

Umananda temple

This is a Shiva temple situated at the Peacock Island in the middle of river Brahmaputra. Built by Ahom King Gadadhar Singha (1681-1696), who was a Shiv devotee, the mountain on which the temple has been built is known as Bhasmacala.

Country boats are available on the banks of Brahmaputra to take the visitors to the island.
It is believed that Shiva has resided here in the form of Bhayananda. According to the Kalika Purana, Shiva sprinkled ashes (bhasma) at this place and bestowed knowledge to Parvati. The religious epic has it that Shiva was in meditation on this hillock. Kamadeva interrupted his meditative yoga and as a consequence was burnt to ashes by Shiva’s anger. Since then the hillock has got its name– Bhasmacala.

Madan Kamdev

Located at an archaeological site in Baihata Chariali, Kamrup, Assam, this place dates back to the 9th and 10th century AD. Excavation and ruins here depict the prosperity and might of the Pala dynasty of Kamarupa.

Ruins of Madan Kamdev are spread widely in a secluded place and it covers around 500 meters. Uma Maheshwar’s embraced idols, carved on the stones of medieval temples, can be seen here; the most prominent ones are: Sun, Ganesha, and Vidhyadhara.

Kamakhya temple

This is a Hindu temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. Located on Nilachal Hill in Guwahati, Assam, it is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the 10 Mahavidyas: ‘Kali’, ‘Tara’, ‘Sodashi’, ‘Bagalamukhi’,’ Matangi’, ‘Bhuvaneshwari’, ‘Bhairavi’, ‘Chhinnamasta’, ‘Dhumavati’, and ‘Kamala’.

Among these, ‘Tripurasundari’, ‘Matangi’ and ‘Kamala’ reside inside the main temple while the remaining seven goddesses reside in individual temples. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindu devotees and Tantric worshippers show keen interest in the same.

Since Assam is surrounded by seven states, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Sikkim, together they are seven sisters and a brother which shape the Northeast of India. And, it is unachievable to rextract the incredible heritage of India in a single piece penned, so watch this space for greater Indian culture to unfold.