Like every year, Ambubachi mela will be starting from forthcoming June 22 in Kamakhya temple, Guwahati. Almost 10 lakh devotees are expected to visit the temple during this auspicious time when the Goddess is said to be going through her yearly menstrual cycle. The city of Guwahati is well prepared to welcome the devotees, and special care has been taken by the Government to make the festival hustle free. From the mythological point of view, the temple is one of the seasoned yet well-known shakti peeths in India which were created by the fallen body parts of Goddess Shakti. Kamakhya temple resides in the place where yoni of Shakti fell after Shiva danced with her cadaver. The temple was destroyed by Muslim invaders in the fourteenth century but was reconstructed in the era of Koch King Naranarayan.
From then on, the festival of Ambubachi seems to eulogise womanhood. We can say that it redefines the female strength. But wait! Is it really true!! Let’s see it from an Eagle eye. The paradoxical thing is that, the temple which breaks the menstrual taboo of our society but prohibits entry of menstruating women inside the temple. During the Ambubachi days, many people from nearby places wash their clothes; clean their houses as they believe that mother earth or Devi is menstruating. Being clean and hygienic is not an issue, but the thought process behind that cleaning is questionable. It is consensus on the concept of menstrual blood to be impure and barring women from holy places just because they are going through a natural process.
Although the mythology seems substantial, the actual history of the temple has a dark spot in it. Prominent Assamese writer and intellect Lakshminath Bezbaroa wrote in one of his books (Mahapurush Sri Sankardev Aru Madhabdev) that, during reestablishment of the temple by Naranarayan 140 men were sacrificed in front of the Goddess. There was a class of people called Bhogi who were convinced to sacrifice their life for Goddess. These people were allowed to have intercourse with women just before their holy sacrifice. Kalika Purana, the book that was written in the contemporary era and glorifies Devi Kamakhya has mentioned about the rituals of Nara Bali (human sacrifice) in the 64th chapter. Some shlokas even tell about how the head should be put on the deathbed before chopping and what the consequences are if the chopped head gives a smiling posture.
हसति छिन्नर्शीषचेंन्नरम् स्यात्तु रिपुक्षय:
श्रीबॄद्धिरायुषो बॄद्धि सदा दातुरसंशय: | 141 |
The present scenario of the temple is quite different from the past in the sense that human sacrifice has been now replaced with animal sacrifice. Recently, one famous Bollywood superstar offered one buffalo in the temple against which well-known singer and socialist Zubeen Garg raised his voice and appealed for a ban on animal sacrifice in the name of God. He also commented on the varna system which is quite prevalent in the temple premise. The priests of the temple slammed Zubeen Garg for his remark and told him not to comment on the age-old traditional beliefs.
There is no doubt that Kamakhya temple is an architectural wonder and natural beauty surrounding it is jaw-dropping. Ambubachi Mela is a festival that attracts lots of tourists and devotees find an oasis of serenity around it. It is just that every coin has two sides of it just like every rose has its thorn.