Ambubasi Festival – The Tantric Shakti Fertility Festival at Kamakhya Temple Assam

Ambubasi Festival or Tantric Fertility Festival is held annually during the monsoon in the famous Kamakhya temple at Guwahati, Assam. Ambubhasi is also known as Kamakhya Devi Puja or Ambubachi and is closely associated with the Tantric Shakti cult prevalent in eastern parts of India. In 2014, Ambubasi Festival begins on June 22 and ends on June 26. This festival associated with Tantrism is observed for four days.

Legend has it that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her yearly menstrual cycle during the Ambubachi days. The temple remains closed for three days – the menstruation period. Due to this unique observance the ritual is also known as fertility festival or Ameti in local language.
A fair takes place in the vicinity of Kamakhya Temple during this period and is known as Ambubasi Mela – a rural craft fair.

Shakti devotees in large numbers visit the shrine during the period and thousands of devotees wait outside the temple on the fourth day to have a glimpse of the deity – when the Goddess reappears at the shrine.

The devotees make a mad rush when the temple reopens to receive the unique ‘prasad’ which is small bits of cloth, which is supposedly moist with the menstrual fluid of Goddess Kamakhya. It is considered highly auspicious and powerful.

Sanyasins and Pandas from different parts of India assemble at the Kamakhya temple during this period.
A major attraction during the festival is the presence of large number of Tantric Sadhus. Devotees come from far off places to meet the Tantric practitioners. Some of these Tantric sanyasins appear in public only during this period.

Due to their unique dressing and odd behavior the Tantric Sanyasins attract the media and foreigners. Foreign and Indian photographers use the opportunity to click rare snaps of the Tantric practitioners.