Ambubasi Mela (Fairs of India)
AMBUBASI MELA: FACTS & FIGURES
Location: Kamakhya temple, Guwahati
Time of the year: Monsoon
Duration: Four to seven days
AMBUBASI MELA: THE FAIR
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.
AMBUBASI MELA: THE SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS
This mela is held every year during monsoon in the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati. This mela is associated with the legend of menstrual cycle of the Goddess Kamakhya. During Ambubasi, the temple remains closed for three days during which the devotees accumulate in the temple premises and wait for the auspicious fourth day when they are allowed to worship the Goddess inside the temple.
The accumulation of sadhus and pandas from all over the country and the locally available art and craft items for sale on the roadside, make it an interesting place to visit and witness the festivities involved. The pandits chanting mantras on behalf of the devotees, pilgrims performing puja, all these make the fair an interesting affair.
AMBUBASI MELA: RITUALS/TRADITIONS
An important aspect of the fair is the worship related to the tantrik cult. Generally, this is the peak of monsoon time in Assam. It usually rains during this time for almost a week, a phenomenon known locally as xaat. And it is believed that this rain purifies the earth, making it ready for harvesting. According to an ancient belief, one should start having the summer fruits only after this fair and this rain.
AMBUBASI MELA: LEGENDS
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.
AMBUBASI MELA: GETTING THERE
Guwahati is very well connected with the other cities and towns of India. Being the gateway to the northeastern region of the country, it has a good network of road, rail and air, connecting it to other places in the region as well as the other parts of the country. From Guwahati to Kamakhya is a half an hour journey by any of the local transport available.