Free Press Journal

A festival that celebrates Menstruation: Why every woman should know about India’s Ambubachi Mela


The annual Ambubachi Mela also known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ draws lakhs of devotees – tourists, sadhus and tantrics – from all over the world. The Kamakhya temple is located in Guwahati. The four-day festival is begins on the fourth days after the goddess undergoes her annual periods. The temple remains shut during those three days and once it reopens devotees visit the temple to receive the goddess’ blessings. In 2017, it begins on June 22 and ends on June 25. Here we present to you 10 facts about the festival and the goddess.

  • According to a legend, Sati, Lord Shiva’s wife, jumped into fire after her father insulted her husband. Carrying her corpse, Shiva performed Tandav Nritya. The place where the parts of her body fell were formed in ‘Shakti Peeths’. Kamakhya Temple was formed where the goddess’ womb and genitals fell.
  • The goddess goes through her menstrual cycle every year in the month of June.
  • The goddess is also recognised as the goddess of desire and fertility.
  • The temple turns red during those four days. The colour red holds special importance during the festival with everything red from flowers to cloth.
  • As prasad devotees are given a piece of cloth, called as rakta bastra or anga bastra soaked in the menses of the goddess. It is believed be auspicious. The other form of prasad is angodak, the fluid part of the body.
  • Not only Kamakhya temple but all the temples in Assam are closed during those days and no religious activities are performed.
  • The festival sees thousands of tantriks and sadhus in attendance from across the world, displaying their psychic powers making an extraordinary spectacle.
  • It is believed that during the festival, the goddess possess supreme powers and hence tantrics and sadhus are seeing performing cult practices.
  • The temple got destroyed in the 16th Later, King of Cooch rebuilt it.
  • The temple has four prayer chambers – Garbagriha, Pancharatna, Calanta and Natamandiramong.