In our article on the Raja Parba celebrated in Odisha, we elaborated on how the mensuration process of the female anatomy is celebrated in Sanatan dharma. But this is not the only occasion honoring the reproductive power bestowed upon women by divinity.
In Assam, the Ambubachi is observed with devotion and leads to one of the biggest congregations of devotees at the Kamakhya temple in June. The Kamakhya temple, located in Guwahati, Assam, is dedicated to Devi Kamakhya and is considered one of the 51 Shakti Peethas dedicated to Mata Sati, or Devi Shakti. The temple doesn’t have any Murti of the Devi but a stone in the form of Yoni. This stone is worshipped as the manifestation of the mother goddess. It is believed that when the Sudarshan Chakra of Bhagwan Vishnu had stuck the corpse of Mata Sati, it was split into multiple parts and her Yoni fell at the Kamakhya Temple site.
What Is Ambubachi Festival?
During the period of Ambubachi, observed at the onset of the monsoon, Devi Kamakhya is believed to go through her annual menstruation cycle. The temple remains closed for three days, from the seventh day to the tenth day of the Ashadh month of the Hindu calendar; this seclusion allows the goddess some resting period. The daily poojas are also suspended.
Believing that Mata Basuti also becomes shikta during this time, all agricultural and construction work involving digging or tilling the earth is also avoided. Devotees don’t eat cooked food during these three days. They believe that the fertility brought in by Devi Kamakhya will lead to a great harvest and prosperity in the coming months. On the fourth day, all the utensils and clothes used during the Ambubachi period are sprinkled with water. As the occasion ends, a massive fair is held at the temple.
The worship of Devi Kamakhya also resumes after the cleansing and other rituals; the temple is now open for devotees. The prasad of the mother goddess is also distributed among her devotees. This prasad is distributed in the forms of the Angodak and Angabastra. The Angodak, translating to ‘water from the spring,’ signifies the fluid from the body, while the Angabastra, meaning “the cloth covering the body,” is a piece of the red fabric used to shield the Yoni during the three days of the cycle. Many devotees visit the Kamakhya temple to seek Devi Kamakhya’s blessings and procure the special ‘Rakta Bastra’ as Maa Kamakhya’s blessing.
There were 25 Lakh devotees at the Ambubachi Mela in 2019
The famous Ambubachi Mela, also noted as the Tantric Fertility Festival or Ameti commences from this time. For the extraordinary spiritual significance associated with the Ambubachi period, many tantric and priests from around the world reach Guwahati to attend the Ambubachi Mela and worship Maa Kamakhya.
In 2019, the mela was attended by a record number of 25 lakh devotees. The Ambubachi Mela was not held during the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As all restrictions have been lifted from the state, this year the fair will be held from June 22 to June 26. However, fearing that a massive gathering might lead to a swift spread of Covid-19 again, priests have suggested that devotees can pray from their homes, and the prasad will be sent to them via courier.
This is the beauty of the Hindu dharma and the spiritual heads of the great faith system. For Hindu priests, the well-being of society is paramount. While they are doing their duty of offering Pooja and bhog to the deities, they are also ready to go an extra mile and send Prasad to the devotees at their homes to ensure the society is safe from the deadly virus. On the other hand, religious heads of some particular communities flouted all restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic and called for a massive congregation in the national capital in 2020. This led to an upsurge of the pandemic in the country, claiming precious lives.
The selfless dedication to the betterment of the universe is a unique aspect of Hindu Dharma. You do not find a parallel of this sentiment in any other community or culture and ought to take immense pride in being a part of this rich civilization.