Ambubachi Mela, Assam
Ambubachi Mela is one of the biggest congregations of eastern India. It is the most important festival of the Kamakhya temple and is celebrated in the month of June every year.
It is more of a ritual of austerities, a festival celebrated with Shakti rites. The belief is that Kamakhya embodies the mother cult, the Shakti. During the period of Ambubachi from the seventh to the tenth day of the Hindu month of “Asadha”, the doors of the shrine are closed to all as it is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes through the annual cycle of menstruation. On the twelfth day, the doors are opened ceremonially and a big fair held at the temple premises on that day.
“Ambubachi” means spoken with water and it also implies that the rains expected during this month make the earth fertile and ready for procreation. Daily worship is suspended during this period. All agricultural work like digging, ploughing, sowing, and transplanting of crops are forbidden. Widows, Brahmacharis and Brahmins avoid cooked food during these days. On the fourth day, Ambubachi being over, household items, utensils and clothes are washed, cleaned and purified by sprinkling sacred waters, worship of Goddess Kamakhya begins after cleansing and other rituals are performed. Entry to the Shrine is considered to be auspicious after this.
The concept of Ambubachi thus has in its origin, formative influences and elements of agricultural, social and religious ideas that have contributed to the emergence of the phenomenon. It is thus symbolic supported by religious sanction.