The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one of the 52 shakti Peeths or holy spots in the Indian subcontinent. The Ambubachi Mela is an annual mela(Fair-crowd gathering to offer Prayer to the goddess) that is held in the kamakhya temple. This mela starts from the seventh day of the Assamese month Ahaar. It is believed that the presiding goddess of the temple, Kamakhya goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period of time. During the Ambubachi Mela, the doors of the Kamakhya temple along with the other temples of the region remains closed for 3 days. During these 3 days, certain restrictions such as not offering prayers, reading holy scriptures and performing other religious activities are observed.
Even Hindu marriages do not take place during this period. After the 3rd day, when the goddess regains her purity, the doors of the temple re-opens and the devotees are allowed to have a glance of the goddess. People stand in long queues hour after hour to seek her blessings. Then prasad is distributed among the devotees in the form of water and a small piece of red silk cloth which is known as the Rakta Bastra or Anga Bastra. This piece of cloth is said to b very fruitful to the one who has it. It is believed to be the cloth upon which the goddess sits during her course of menstruation. The Ambubachi mela is also known as the Tantric fertility festival. One can see various sadhus in different disguise moving in and around the temple premises. Some of them even make their public appearances only during the time of the mela. They remain in isolation during the rest of the year. Some of the sadhus are also seen displaying their physical powers at the mela. Every year lacs of pilgrims including the foreigners come to Assam to observe this festival. For this reason, the Ambubachi mela is also known as the Mahakumbh of the East. The government takes all the possible steps for successful conducting of the festival. All facilities such as medical, drinking water, rest camps, security etc are provided to the devotees.
Although the Ambubachi mela is celebrated observing the annual menstruation cycle of the goddess Kamakhya, it is actually the Mother earth that herself bleeds and becomes impure. It is strange to note that the Kamakhya temple does not have any idol or statue of deity inside it. But it has a stone in the form of a female reproductive organ that is actually worshiped. Although small cabs are provided from the entrance gate downward towards the temple upward to the devotees, most of them prefer to walk. Even I chose to walk, as the queue of the people waiting for cabs was almost a kilometer long.
Though it requires a lot of energy as well as time to walk in the upward direction in the Nilachal hills, there was some kind of positive energy present in that environment which did not stop me from moving forward. After walking for almost a kilometer, a police officer advised me to take the Mekhelauja Path as it takes only 15-20 minutes to reach the temple through this path. The Mekhelauja Path is said to be those incomplete staircases which Narakasura built in order to marry Goddess Kamakhya which he took as a challenge from the goddess herself. But he was not successful in his task. Although this path shortens one’s distance and time, it requires a lot of stamina to walk through this beautiful path full of pebbles. Yet I found it adventurous. It was altogether a great experience of covering a long distance of total 6 km up and down on foot. One must have this wonderful experience of the mela once in their lifetime.