Context: Ahead of the second phase of polling in Assam, Rahul Gandhi offered prayers at Guwahati’s Kamakhya temple, the most revered shrine in Assam.
- Legends say the temple atop the Kamagiri or Nilachal Hills, in the city of Guwahati, on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, was built by the demon king Narakasura.
- Records are available only from 1565 when Koch King Naranarayana had the temple rebuilt.
also read Assamese Bhaona
- Kamakhya is one of the 51 shaktipeeths, or holy sites, for the followers of the Shakti cult, each representing a body part of Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.
- The temple’s sanctum sanctorum houses the yoni — female genitals — symbolized by a rock.
- The Ambubachi festival marks the menstruation of the goddess.
- Celebrated in June every year at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, the four-day festival coincides with the Hindu month of Asadha, during which the goddess is believed to go through the annual cycle of menstruation.
- The ritualistic fair celebrating the Goddess’ period is one of the reasons why taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared to other parts of India.
- The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called Tuloni Biya, meaning small wedding.
- The Kamakhyatemple essentially follows the Nagara style of architecture of the North India and is based on Panchtantra pattern.
- The sculptures are apparent mostly on the exterior walls as well as on the interior walls of the Kamakhyatemple.
- Health officials said Ambubachi Mela was also an occasion to promote menstrual hygiene through the use of sanitary pads.
- A similar custom is followed at the Devi Temple at Chengannur town in Alleppey district of Kerala.
- The temple is shut for the days the Goddess there is believed to undergo her period.
- Last year due to the lockdown, the annual Ambubachi festival at the Guwahati’s Kamakhya temple was cancelled for the first time in its recorded history.