Assamese word ‘Ambubachi’ or ‘Ambubasi’ is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Ambuvaci’ meaning “the issuing forth of the water”.
Ambubachi Mela is a festival which is held annually during the monsoon season in Kamakhya temple, situated in the lush hill of Nilachal in Guwahati, Assam. From regular families to black-clad Aghoris, foreign tourists to sadhus and sanyasins, this time of year calls to those who adore the Divine Mother and wish to be close to Her during Her most potent and sacred course.
Kamakhya temple is a religious site which very few is unacquainted with. Among the 52 Shakti Peethas that is scattered in different locations across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet, Kamakhya is one which is upheld with immense awe and reverence by the people of Assam, as well as India.
Kamakhya, or Kameshwari, is also the Goddess of desire, potency and fertility. She is the ultimate source of desires (Kamarupa, Kamarupini) of human beings and also to the one who fulfils them.
It might be strange, but the sanctum sanctorum of Kamakhya Temple doesn’t have any idol or statue of deity but a stone in the form of a yoni (literally “vagina” or “womb”), that is worshipped.
It is believed that the presiding Goddess of the temple goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period (no puns) of time. It is also believed that with the onset of rain the creative and nurturing power of the menses of Mother Earth becomes accessible to devotees at this site during the mela.
During the period of the festival, the temple doors are closed. Worshiping, reading holy texts is strictly prohibited during Ambubachi. Hindu marriage isn’t held and farmers also do not plough their lands.
After the temple doors are reopened on the fourth day, devotees receive bits of red colored clothes, also called Rakta Bastra, or the blood cloth in the form of Prasad or blessings. The cloth is believed to be soaked in the blood of the menses of Goddess Kamakhya which is assumed to be very fruitful and auspicious for the one who has it.
Here is a pranama mantra that often recited:
kāmākyām kāmasampannām kāmesvarïm harapriyām|
kāmanām dehi me nityam kāmesvarï namo'stute ||
Whether a devotee or not, a believer or a free thinker, this is an experience worth having which would bring a change in perspective in more ways than one.