The Annual Hindu Rain Festival of Ambubachi Mela

Ambubachi-Mela-Devi-Kamakhya-menstruation-statue

For 3 days each June, typically always starting upon June 22 and ending upon June 26, but fluctuating due to various influences, the Hindu festival of Ambubachi Mela is observed. Sadhu’s, that is, holy men of the Hindu faith, and pilgrims from all over India gather at the Kamakhya Temple (pronounced “kah-mah-kee-yah”) in Guwahati, India, a site located upon a hill near the Brahmaputra River, to pray for rain. It is believed by Hindus that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, who is the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this festival. The Kamakhya Temple becomes closed for 3 days during the mela as it is believed by Hindus that the Earth, commonly associated as Mother Earth, becomes unclean for 3 days and therefore should be secluded in the same format that some traditionally practicing Hindu women seclude themselves during their own menstrual cycles. During these 3 days, some restrictions are observed by the Hindu devotees (e.g. cessation of cooking, cessation of performing worship which is referred to as “puja”, cessation of reading holy books, cessation of farming etc.). After 3 days, Devi Kamakhya is bathed by cleaning the statue which represents her with red pigment flowing from her vaginal canal, alongside other rituals which are carried out to ensure that the devi retrieves purity. The doors of the Kamakhya Temple are reopened on the 4th day and devotees are permitted to enter Kamakhya Temple to worship Devi Kamakhya. The devotion of these pilgrims is believed to bring rain and fertility back to the Earth