Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam, has always been a part of my daily life. Yet the Amubachi Mela, a 3 day celebration at the temple, held a special place in my memory. Just as monsoon started, a band of sadhus and sadhvis descending on the temple, creating an aura of mysticism.
When I was a child, my grandmother used to tell us mythological stories about the Amubachi Mela. It was the story of Sati and Lord Shiva. Here is our, extremely shortened un-nuanced version: Sati had married Lord Shiva against the wish of her father, King Daksha. King Daksha wasn’t to happy about it. Once, the King held a yagna, at which, he didn’t invite Sati and Lord Shiva. An upset Sati decided to go to get father’s palace regardless. At the ceremony, King Daksha insulted her and Shiva. Sati, unable to bear the disrespect, jumped into the yagna fire and killing herself.
When lord Shiva came to know of Sati’s death, he got very angry. Enraged, Shiva started wondering the earth while holding Sati’s dead body in his arms. And the days stretched on, and his feelings of loss unabated, Shiva started the dance of destruction of the universe. The other gods, none to happy about the impending demise of the universe, decided to intervene. But confronting Shiva in his state of anger was just not an option. The other gods felt that the only way they could help Shiva move on, was if they could remove Sati’s body from Shiva’s grasp. This, they would have to do, without revealing their intentions. For if Shiva came to know that they were taking away what was left of his beloved, he would unleash his wrath on them.
The gods decided, that would slowly cut away at Sati’s body, while Shiva still held held onto it and roamed the earth. They used the Sudarshan Chakra, a potent weapon, to slowly removed parts of Sati’s body. And as the parts were removed, they fell away at different places on the Earth. These places are known as the ‘Shakti Pithas’. At Kamakhya the yoni of the Goddess fell.
It is believed, that the Amubachi Mela, is that celebration of the menstruation of that yoni. The yoni of mother Earth herself.
What I am presenting today, is a mix of video and images that captured at the Amubachi Mela, held during the monsoons of 2013. I hope it does justice to the festival and the spectacle at Kamakhya temple.
[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWzqno09Vw” width=”590″ height=”315″]