Kamakhya Temple: The Legend behind the Menstruating Goddess of Assam
Kamakhya Temple: While the whole country is busy applauding Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar’s role in the movie “Padman” as a simple, contended poor man who advocates the role of women in the society and shuns the social stigma as well as myths attached to women’s menstruation cycle, we have here one famous legend, the legend of the bleeding goddess of Assam which is not only famous all around the world but is also bounded by rarity and obscurity which is still unexplained by science.
1. The Queen mother of Nilachal Parvat
The Bleeding godmother Devi Kamakhya’s temple or popularly known as the Kamakhya temple is located on top of the picturesque Nilachal Hill in Guwahati. The temple was re-built by the 15th century Cooch king, King Narayana after he received a heavenly sermon to build one temple dedicating to the goddess of Shakti and virility, Ma Kamakhya who will lead him into the path of righteousness and redeem him with extraordinary power to overcome evil.
2. The legend behind Shiva’s first wife, Goddess Shakti and her association with “Shakti Peeths”
As per legend, Lord Shiva’s first consort, Goddess Sati died after immolating herself after being insulted by her own father in her natal home. Lord Shiva couldn’t bear this loss and with a heavy heart took the burning body of his beloved wife and carried around the earth. Seeing Lord Shiva’s utterly dismal state, Lord Vishnu cut the body of Sati into 52 body parts using his Sudarshana Chakra, and each body part fell on earth at different spots which later came to be identified as the holy spots or “Shakti Peeths”.
3. The most important and fascinating Shakti Peeths of all: Ma Kamakhya Temple
Not only is Kamakhya temple the most important pilgrimage center for Hindus, it is also the legendary site where the speculated dismembered body part of Goddess Sati (the womb and the vagina) fell. The mythical womb and vagina of Sati is housed in the sanctum sanctorum or the “Garvagriha” of the temple.
4. The curious case of the Bleeding goddess
The Kamakhya Temple houses Goddess Shakti’s 10 avatars namely Dhumavati, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari, Tara, Kamala, Matangi and Tripuara Sundari. But the main deity after whom the temple is dedicated has no sculptured image or an idol but a “yoni” or the disputed sculptured Vagina installed inside the “Garvagriha” of the temple of Goddess Shakti which is said to bleed every year in the month of Ashaad (the month of June as per Hindu calendar).
5. Celebrating the “Shakti” of womanhood: Ambubachi Mela
Every year in the month of Ashaad (July), the Nilachal Hills turns into a sea of the human crowd who throng to the temple to get a glimpse of the inner pond turning vermillion red. This unusual and once in a year event is also called the Ambubachi Mela which attracts visitors and tourists from around the world.
6. Mother earth also undergoes her annual menstrual cycle
The inner temple pond or the natural spring and the nearby Brahmaputra river turning red has no scientific explanation, yet myth and legends surround this annual unusual and weird event. As per popular stories, every year Goddess Kamakhya undergoes her annual menstrual course in the monsoon season which makes the nearby pond and rivers turn red. The main sanctum sanctorum which houses the supposed womb and vagina of the Goddess is closed for 3 days and opened on the fourth day after the main deity is cleansed properly to ensure Devi Kamakhya retrieve her purity.
7. Other popular legends
It is also believed that as monsoon season celebrates Mother Nature’s power to nurture and procreate, this “Shakti” or power of Mother Earth becomes accessible to its devotees and hence pilgrims and tourists from different parts of the world go to Kamakhya temple to celebrate the power of womanhood and this spectacular unexplained event which takes place every year.
8. Devi Kamakhya’s virility distributed as Prasad to her devotees
During “those three days” when the main sanctum sanctorum remains closed and inaccessible to the devotees, it is said the main deity is undergoing her menstrual course and hence the nearby water source turns red with her blood. On the fourth day, when the doors are open for the devotees, they have distributed two types of Prasad-Angodak and Angabastra. The Angodak is the water from the bloody spring and the Angabastra literally means the cloth covering the yoni during the days of menstruation of Devi Kamakhya.
9. The time when Tantric or Ameti fertility is at its height
The Kamakhya temple or Assam is considered to be the earliest seat of powerful tantric power who introduced to the mystic world the path to righteous psychic power. During the Ambubachi Mela one can see an array of “Babas” and “Nanga Sadhus” coming from various parts of the country meditating at the Kamakhya Temple invoking their inner psychic power through intense meditation and yoga pulling huge curious crowds to see their miraculous powers. The “babas” consider Ambubachi Mela the ripe time to increase their tantric powers and hence seek blessings from the bleeding Goddess.
10. Local myths and legends
Another less heard myth about the Bleeding goddess is that the spot where the present Kamakhya temple stands were the spot where Goddess Sati’s yoni fell after which the hill turned blue hence the name Nilachal (Blue Mountains). Though the origin of the temple is under debate, locale folklore states that the original temple was built by Kamdev the god of love after he was cursed by Lord Shiva who with the help of the celestial architect Lord Vishwakarma built the original temple hence the name Kamakhya. Though this myth holds very less relevance in present terms.
While we might be celebrating the power of Goddess Shakti and her powerful energy to nurture her devotees while revering her as the supreme goddess of virility, yet her legends and myths hold less importance in the lives of the common people who still keep women secluded from the society during her menstrual cycle. It is high time that we start venerating womanhood in unison and stop attaching the age-old social stigma to the fascinating energy of women which helps the world move on.