We all talk about how menstruation is a huge taboo in our country, but here is something that will either change this perception of yours, or make you despise our country even more. Now don't get me wrong, August is near, and I totally love my country, but wait till you get to know about this temple that exposes the hypocrisy of India.
Coming to the point - Meet the menstruating Goddess Kamakhya Devi, nestled high up on the Nilachal Hill, in the West of Guwahati, Assam.
One of the many places of pilgrimage in India, what makes Kamakhya Devi different is that it has no sculpture to worship, only Kamakhya's yoni or vagina. What is strange is that a natural spring in Assam keeps the stone moist all the time. But what it most ironic about the temple is that bleeding women are not allowed to enter the temple when they are menstruating.
The legend : How the temple came into being
The temple is one of the 51 shakti peeths in India. Legend has it that Sati once fought with her husband Lord Shiva to attend her father's great yagna. Despite his disapproval, she went on to attend the yagna. However, Shiva wasn't invited and also had to bear the insult by Sati's father, Daksha. Sati couldn't bear this and committed suicide.
Photography isn't allowed inside the temple. This is a picture of another Kamakhya yoni in Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh.
When Lord Shiva got to know about it, he was furious. Placing Sati's dead body on his shoulders, he did tandava - the dance of destruction. Trying to calm him down, Lord Vishnu cut the body with his chakra, parts of which then fell at 108 different places - all of which later came to be known as shakti peeths. Sati's womb is said to have fallen at Kamakhya temple, hence the significance.
The temple also has an annual fertility festival called Ambuwasi Puja in which the goddess is said to be going through her yearly menstrual cycle. The temple remains closed for three days and opens up with great festivities on Day 4. It is also said that the river Brahmaputra turns red during this time. Whether it really is blood, or vermilion put by pandits is a question left unanswered. This is what indicates the temple about the bleeding goddess and the temple remains shut. Later, the holy water is distributed among the devotees.
It is ironic that people visit the temple and some even claim that it is the most auspicious place in the country, but conversations still turn into whispers when we openly talk about menstruation!