New Year resolutions made with a difference…I decided to visit Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati to start off the new year with new promises! The last year was a blessing for us which came in the form of our baby boy. And so we decided to visit this holy place to express our gratitude and seek the divine blessings. Not that it’s customary but definitely is calming.
Kamakhya Temple, an ultimate destination for pilgrims, is visited by thousands of devotees on New Year day to offer their prayers in the holy shrine. The ocean of people wait in long queues to be able to step inside the temple where the main shrine is located. There is no idol of the presiding deity Goddess Kamakhya, but she is worshipped in the form of a yoni like stone. Devotees carry puja essentials according to their beliefs to offer inside as pandas or pujaris perform rites on their behalf.
The wait to get inside the temple could be way too long judging by the long queue. So we decided to skip it that day as it would be tiresome with a baby. There’s another shorter route, provided you spend some extra bucks, which takes less time compared to the main one. We remained content by lighting diyas (earthen lamps) and incense sticks on the allotted space outside the temple. Incase you want a detailed puja with proper rites you can get it done by the pujaris who are available in the temple premises. Ardent devotees even offer animals as sacrifice to overcome the doshas in their astronomical charts.
Ambubachi mela at Kamakhya temple
Every year during the monsoon season (Assamese month Aahar) the Ambubachi mela is celebrated with proper rituals according to the Shakti cult at the Kamakhya temple. It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya. It is believed that Maa Kamakhya, the Mother Shakti goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this time stretch. The temple remains closed for three days and on the fourth day Goddess Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed. The doors of the temple are then reopened for everyone and prasad is distributed.
Lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country and abroad visit Kamakhya temple during this annual Ambubachi mela. People of all sects and ages visit the temple from far and wide… some who are ardent devotees, others like sadhus, intellectual and folk tantriks, babas, baul singers, aghoras make it their abode for those few days of the mela. Though this celebration is mainly observed by the shakti cult, yet people apart from this cult also visit the temple because of their devotion. This year the festival dates are from 22nd June to 26th June.
Durga puja at Kamakhya temple
Durga puja is also celebrated annually here in Kamakhya temple. This festival which falls during Navratri in the autumn season also attracts a lot of visitors. The puja is performed in a unique way with Mahasnan or the ritualistic bath of the deity followed by sacrifices. Kumari puja is another important ritual observed during this festival where young girls are dressed up beautifully and is worshipped as a manifestation of Goddess Kamakhya.
Kamakhya temple, situated on top of the Nilachal hills on the western part of Guwahati city, is a very famous pilgrimage destination for Hindus, especially Tantrik worshippers. It is, in fact, the most important temple in Assam. The temple is very near the Kamakhya railway station. Bus services, trekkers, auto rickshaws, rental cabs are available to take you to the temple. The beauty of the place is enhanced by the small colourful stalls on both sides of the road leading to the temple. In here you get a variety of stuff to choose from to take back home as a souvenir of your visit.
My visit to Kamakhya temple on the first day of New Year 2020 was to find my inner strength and peace. I have my priorities straight and to maintain my focus I needed the divine blessings. I just hope that I get to travel more this year and create some good memories with my son.