Indias Vagina Goddess – A Celebration Of Feminism
It is almost the end of summer and very soon a few hundred people in a small corner of this world are going to celebrate Ambubuchi – a festival that worships feminism. So what is this celebration all about? Read along to find out.
Kamaksha – The Vagina Goddess
Goddess Kamaksha, according to the ancient Hindu mythology, is a form of Shakti – The Power. She is a feminine form and is associated with the Supreme All Powerful, destroyer of the evil. During this festival, Goddess Kamaksha is worshipped in a temple in the valley of Assam, India.
Guwahati City Along The Bhrahmaputra River In Assam, India
Assam is a state located in the North-Eastern part of India. Its capital, Guwahati can be reached by rail and air from the Indian cities of New Delhi and Kolkata. The Kamaksha Temple is located on the Nilachal hill not far away from Guwahati.
Good Motorable Road Leading To The Shrine
To understand this bizarre celebration of femininity, let’s go through the story behind it.
According to Hindu mythology, the Goddess of Shakti or the Goddess of Power is Princess Sati. Sati is the daughter of King Daksha and the wife of Lord Shiva – the Hindu male fertility God.
Shiva is the unconventional God of Indian mythology, who smokes weed and meditates in the Grand Mount Kailash to Crematoriums! The demons of the land treasure his grace – the tiger skin clad barbaric God.
Princess Sati is fascinated by this strange God and wish to meet him and thus meditates passionately. Impressed by Sati’s tenacious efforts, Shiva appears before Sati. Princess Sati instantly falls for the God man. Ripped muscles and angular face contributing to his enigmatic, irresistible all powerful aura. He is the finest specimen of manhood coupled with the wise righteousness of Gods.
Amidst much controversy in the Royal Court of Daksha, they get married. Sati accompanies her husband to Mount Kailash (in present day Tibet). They live the life of hermits with fruits for food.
Daksha isn’t angry at his daughter, Sati. His anger is directed towards Shiva. He holds the Gods of the demons responsible for stealing Sati from him. He thinks Shiva is just a barbarian with ash smirched face and the”odd” God conspiring with the demonic Asuras.
Daksha organises a yagna (a fire ritual) and invites all the Gods to his court to attend it. Every God except Shiva and his daughter, Sati. Inspite of the glaring slip in diplomacy and public humiliation, the couple goes to the yagna. But they were not given due respect at the gathering and Sati felt that her father has disgraced her husband. Such hostile treatment from a loved one towards another loved one couldn’t be tolerated. Sati, holding herself responsible, immolates herself – dousing herself in the purifying fumes of Agni (the fire God) as a form of penance.
Shiva angered beyond reason by the traumatic death of his beloved wife, cut Daksha’s head and replaces it with that of a goat’s. Shiva’s legendary anger couldn’t call to reason. Everything in his path meets destruction.
Shiva WIth Sati’s Corpse On His Shoulder
Otherwise a skilful dancer, this time with his wife on his shoulder, he danced the dance of destruction – Tandava. Shiva’s destruction of the Universe needed to be stopped. The other Gods, horrified by such widespread destruction, called in the divine intervention of the Lord of Gods, Vishnu. Vishnu tries to stop Shiva with the aid of the divine weapon, the Sudarsana Chakra, the Divine Wheel. The sharp weapon cuts through Sati’s corpse and parts of her body fell all across the Indian subcontinent, the holy land.
A Shakti Peeth (a sacred spot) was formed at each of those places where Sati’s various body parts had fallen.
There are 51 such Shakti Peeths scattered at different places in the Indian subcontinent (49 in present day India, and the rest 2 in Tibet and Pakistan respectively).
The Kamaksha Temple
The Kamaksha Temple is one of those 51 sacred spots. Legend has it that this was the place where Sati would secrectly go to meet Shiva to satisfy her bodily amour.
The Kamaksha Temple
The shrine is located on a hillock on the outskirts of the city of Guwahati, Assam. Thus, the name Kamaksha (Kama meaning sexual bond), which is associated with the female genital. The Hindus represents Goddess Kamaksha symbolically as a stone Yoni (the female genital).
A Symbolic Stone Yoni From The Ancient Past – PC: Source
Although Ambubuchi is a religious festival and “Religion” has hardly anything to do with my blog, nevertheless, a closer look at the customs and celebration is pretty astonishing.
The festival that goes on for 5 days, is a celebration of womanhood. It is the celebration of Goddess Kamaksha’s annual menstrual period. You read that right!
The stone Yoni of the Kamaksha Temple is kept at the inner sanctum of the shrine. With the oncoming monsoon or the rainy season, the Yoni, which is fed by an underground natural spring, gets partially submerged; and the spring water begin to flow above the stone.
Since it was the lower cervix of Princess Sati that had fallen at the shrine, it is believed that this upsurge of underground water is symbolically Goddess Kamaksha’s menses!
This geological upsurge of underground water happens only once annually around the rainy season. During this 5 days period, the stone Yoni is wrapped with a red cloth and adorned with flowers and vermillion.
The entire shrine seems to be overwhelmed by the colour red and the chant “Prithvi Rajashala Hoi” (Mother Earth is menstruating) is heard everywhere. The heady ambiance draws you towards the inner spirituality that the entire place has to offer. Pilgrims are not allowed for the first 3 days. On the 3rd day, the stone Yoni is bathed and buffalo and goat sacrifices are done.
On the last day of the festival, pilgrims are given access to enter and touch the stone Yoni. Each pilgrim is offered the Holy Water of the spring and a piece of the red cloth from the previous year as blessings.
Kamaksha – Indias Vagina Goddess
Although Ambubuchi is celebrated for 5 days annually, the Kamaksha shrine is open for visitors throughout the year.
Story contributed by Grace, a reader of this blog and an avid traveller who has travelled across the length and breadth of India.