We all have grown up with the same perception- Menstrual cycle is not a topic to be talked about openly. In my own house, I’m not allowed to enter the kitchen nor am I allowed to go to the temple in those days. Why? Time and again, we have come across various meaningless practices and beliefs from all around the country regarding the menstrual taboo. Nonetheless, there are some cultural practices in India which believe in the opposite, case in point being this 4-day Assamese festival called Ambubachi Mela which is celebrated in Guwahati, Assam in June every year.
How is this Mela any different, you ask? Well, the specialty about Ambubachi Mela is that this specific mela correlates the fertility of harvest to that of a woman. In other words, the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya.
Ambubachi Mela is the most significant festival of the Kamakhya Temple of Guwahati, the ritual of asceses is observed with ‘Tantrik means.’
TANTRIC FERTILITY FESTIVAL:
You’ll be surprised to know that is festival is well-known for its Tantric fertility festival or Ameti. Some Tantric Babas who remain in seclusion for their whole lives make their public appearance only during this four days.
Some babas are seen displaying their psychic powers like putting their heads in a pit and stand upright on it, standing on one leg for hours at a stretch. They’re unbelievable!
Of course, the temple remains closed for three days during the mela as it is believed that mother Earth is unclean like the traditional women’s menstrual seclusion.
Specifically during these three days, there is no farming, cooking, praying or reading holy books.
Later when devi Kamakhya is bathed and cleaned, temple is opened again and prasad is disturbed.
In 2017, the dates of Ambubachi festival are scheduled between 22.June till 26.June.
Such practices are followed in various other parts too, like the 4 day Odisha festival called Raja Parba which is celebrated in June every year. It celebrates a girl’s onset of womanhood, i.e. menstruation. It is believed that during the first three days Bhudevi (Mother Earth), the wife of Lord Jagannath undergoes menstruation and is given a ceremonial bath the fourth day.