Nested on top of the Nilachal hill in the city of Guwahati in Assam, the Kamakhya temple is an important aspect of the Indian cultural heritage. Built in the late-16th century, the Kamakhya temple has since become popular as one of the major ‘shakti peethas’ in the country where the goddess figure is worshipped as ‘shakti’, or power, in her various forms.
After making your way through the crowded road bordered with tiny shops, you will probably be welcomed by an unpleasant odor that hangs in the air inside the temple complex which, most likely, arises from the presence of the numerous goats in it. These goats are ones that are marked for the ritual sacrifice that takes place in the temple everyday. Though a gory and cruel practice, goats are sacrificed in the name of god because the goddess is worshipped here in her most violent form, wherein her blessings can only be gained by making offerings of blood to her. Though banned in most temples across the country, all attempts to stop this blood fest here have failed so far and the practice continues like always.
The temple is a major centre of Hindu and Tantric worship in the country, more so because of the numerous legends that surround it that alleviate its position in the religious Hindu world. It is believed that, in the mythological past, after Lord Shiva danced the with the corpse of the dead goddess, he body split fragments and fell all over the country and that the Kamakhya temple was built on the spot where her ‘yoni’, or uterus, fell.
A major attraction that is based on this belief is the yearly ‘ambubachi mela’ which is a fair that lasts for three days after a major ‘puja’, during which time the temple remains closed for everyone because the goddess is believed to be menstruating. Before the temple premises are closed for the fair, the priests place a white cloth on the ‘yoni’, or the stone that is worshipped, which surprisingly turns red after the period of the fair. This event attracts a wide variety of people, including sadhus, sanyasis, tantrics and tourists from across the world.
The temple has a rather peculiar way of disarming its visitors. Whether you endorse what a lot of people term as religious fanaticism or you choose to be a critic to the ways of this place, you cannot ignore the power of sheer belief that prevails in this temple. You need to see it to understand it. Chances are that you might still fail in the attempt, but there is no escaping the sense of awe that you will feel after a visit here!