Ambubachi Mela, also known as Ambubasi festival, is held annually during monsoon in the Kamakhya Devi Temple at Guwahati, Assam. In 2016, the beginning date of Ambubasi Mela is June 22 and the festival ends on June 25. The Ambubasi festival is related to the Tantric cult and is also known as Kamakhya Devi Puja. It is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her menstrual cycle during these days and therefore the temple remains closed for three days.
The Ambubasi mela is one of the numerous religious fairs and festivals celebrated with religious fervor in India. Various legends and beliefs are related to this fair. For all the followers of the Hindu religion, especially the locals, this festival is of great importance. This Ambubasi fair is organized every year during monsoon in the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati. The fair attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country and abroad. Ambubasi is closely related to the tantrik rituals that are performed during this festival.The Ambubasi fair is organized every year during monsoon in the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam. An important feature of this fair is the worship related to the tantrik cult. It is associated with the legend of menstrual cycle of the Goddess Kamakhya and accordingly the temple remains closed for three days, at the end of which the devotees throng to perform puja. It is held during the monsoons and an interesting phenomenon is that it rains almost the entire week when it is celebrated. This is considered auspicious; as the local belief is that rain purifies earth, making it ready for harvesting. The presence of sadhus from all over the country and the local handicrafts being sold, mingle and add a riot of color to the festivities.
There is a legend related to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati that is behind the beginning of this traditional fair. It is believed that Parvati had, since childhood, decided that Lord Shiva would be her husband. She underwent very rigorous fasts and meditation to please Shiva, who finally agreed to her wish and accepted her as his wife. However, Parvati’s parents were not happy with the match. Once when Parvati’s father King Daksha organized a yagna, he did not invite his daughter and son-in-law to participate in it. Parvati, who was angry at this treatment, went to her father’s place to ask the reason for it. Daksha insulted Parvati again by calling Shiva poor and wild. Being the ideal consort of Shiva, Parvati could not bear the fact that her husband was being insulted in front of all the already present guests. She immediately jumped into the yagna fire out of shame and anger and killed herself.
When Lord Shiva got to know this, he was very angry and came to Daksha’s palace. On seeing the dead body of his wife, he was so enraged that he put the body on his shoulder and started dancing the tandav or the dance of destruction. For several days the dancing continued, so much so that the earth was on the brink of being destroyed.
Then, all the other gods and goddesses appealed to Lord Vishnu to help remove the body from Shiva shoulder as this would make him stop his dance. With the help of his chakra, Lord Vishnu started cutting Goddess Parvati’s body. It is said that the parts of Parvati’s body fell at different parts of the country, which are all considered centers of power or Shakti peeth. The sex organ of Goddess Parvati is said to have fallen atop the Neelachal hill in Guwahati and that is where the Kamakhya temple stands now. For three days before the mela, the temple remains closed for visitors, as it is believed that Goddess Parvati or the mother earth has her menstrual cycle during these days and therefore she needs rest and solitude.
Another legend says that the demon Narakasura fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya once and he wanted to marry her. But as a goddess cannot marry a demon or asura, Goddess Kamakhya played a trick to save herself. She laid a condition that she would marry him only if he builds a temple for her within one night. Narakasura agreed to it and almost finished building the temple overnight. This scared Goddess Kamakhya and before the final steps of the temple were completed, a cock was sent to cry cock-a-doodle-do to announce the arrival of the morning, before it was actually dawn. This made Narakasura very angry and he killed the cock on that spot. But according to the condition Narakasura couldn’t marry goddess Kamakhya after that. It is said that the present Kamakhya temple is the same that Narakasura had made for the Goddess.
Getting there and Around
By Air – The nearest airport is Guwahati.
By Rail – The nearest railhead is situated at Guwahati.
By Road – Guwahati is well connected with regular bus services from all the major cities in and around the state.
Accommodation facilities are available at reasonable prices in Guwahati with options varying from luxury to budget hotels.