Kamakhya Temple is one amongst the holiest shrines throughout India. Perched on Nilanchal Hill in Kamrup district of Assam, Kamakhya Mandir is easily accessible after a stretch of 8 kms from Guwahati. The temple commemorates Hindu Goddess Sati in her aspect of Kamakhya Devi. Goddess Kamakhya is also known as Sodashi in the local region. Kamakhya is an important Tantric mother goddess closely identified with Kali and Maha Tripura Sundari, according to the Tantric texts (Kalikapurana Stotra, Yoginitantram) that are the basis for her worship at the Kamakhya temple a 16th century temple in the Kamrup district of Assam. Her name means "renowned goddess of desire," and she resides at the Kamakhya temple in the form of a stone yoni (female generative organ). The temple is primary amongst the 51 Shakti Peethas related to the myth of Sati, and remains one of the most important Shakta temples and Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world.
Kamakhya Temple is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. As per the legends, during the time of self-sacrifice, the genital organ (yoni) of Sati fell at this spot. Kamakhya Mandir is a natural cave with a spring. In order to reach the temple, one has to take a flight of steps that goes down into a dark and strange shrine. In the shrine, Kamakhya Devi, in the form of genital organ (yoni), presides as a big fracture in the bedrock. The Goddess is covered naturally by a rivulet of water gushing upward from an underground spring. The crevice is usually covered with sari, flowers and vermilion powder (Sindoor). The temple had been an ancient sacrificial site and till date, sacrifices are offered here. Every morning, group of devotees come to sacrifice goats. The temple is very much ancient in its origin, yet it was restructured in 1665, when it was attacked by the Muslim invaders. The effort of this reconstruction was made by King Nar Narayan of Cooch, Bihar. The spire of this temple is shaped like a beehive. Besides Kamakhya Devi, there are images of Ganesha, Chamundeswari and various dancing sculptures. In the temple, an image of the King and related inscriptions are visible.
Fundamentally, the Goddess 'Kamakhya' is
believed to be the granter of desires. In traditional terms, Assam is known as 'Kamarupa
Desa', a place that is associated with Tantric practices and worship of Shakti.
In Kalika Purana (an ancient scripture), Kamakhya is referred as the goddess who
fulfills all desires, the bride of Lord Shiva and the benefactor of salvation.
During the occasion of Navratri (Sep-Oct), a three day festival attracts
thousands of pilgrims. This festival is known as Ambuvaci (Ameti), which is
unique with its own significance. For the duration of this fertility festival,
the Goddess is said to undergo her menstrual period. At this point of time, the
temple is closed for three days
and before closing, white sheets are draped inside the temple.
When the temple is opened after three days,
the sheets are found red in color. On the fourth day, great festivity is
observed. Devotees from far and near, come to visit this temple at this juncture
of the festival. The red sheets are torn into pieces and distributed amongst the
devotees. Kamakhya Temple is a prominent
pilgrimage site that attracts
thousands of visitors throughout the year. The temple is a natural cave with a
spring. Down a flight of steps to the bowel of earth, is located a dark,
mysterious chamber. Here, draped with a silk sari and covered with flowers, is
kept the "matra yoni". Here, Durga Puja is celebrated annually during Navaratri
in the month of September- October. It is a three day festival attracting
several visitors. A unique festival observed here is the Ambuvaci (Ameti)
fertility festival wherein it is believed that the Goddess (mother Earth)
undergoes her menstrual period.
Hundreds of devotees gather honored Kamakhya temple in Assam state for Kumari Puja organised during Hindu festival of Navratri, in which young girls are worshipped. Kumari Puja is held at the Kamakhya temple every year prior to Durga Puja celebrations and end on “Navami” (the ninth day of the Navratri festival). The tradition is as old as that of the origin of Kamakhya temple. It is believed that the Goddess, although omnipresent, surely exists in the virgin. Reverence to female children as goddesses is an age-old custom of India.