The Kamakhya Temple in Assam is one
of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti
Peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha
Kamakhya is located on a hill - Neelachala
Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti,
residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya, the
granter of desires. Assam traditionally has been known as the Kamarupa
Desa and has been associated with Tantric practices and Shakti worship.
This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and
then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar.
Images of the builder and related inscriptions are seen in the temple.
The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in
Sanskrit describes Kamakhya as the yielder of all desires, the young
bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation.
Legend has it that following the destruction of Daksha's
sacrifice and the Rudra Tandava of Shiva parts of Sati's body fell at
several places throughout India, and these places are revered as Shakti peethas.
The reproductive organ of Sati, (the Yoni) is said to have fallen here.
Legend also has it that the supreme creative power of Bhrahma
was challenged by Shakti, the mother Goddess, and that Bhrahma could
thereafter create, only with the blessings of the Yoni, as the sole creative principle.
After much penance, Bhrahma brought down a luminous body of light from space and placed it
within the Yoni circle, which was created by the Goddess and placed at Kamarupa.
The temple has a beehive like shikhara. Some of the
sculptured panels seen here are of interest. There are images of Ganesha, Chamundeswari,
dancing fitures etc.
There is no image of Shakti here. Within a corner of a cave in the
temple, there is a sculptored image of the Yoni of the Goddess, which is the object of
reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist.
Other temples on the Neelachala hill include those of
Tara, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneswari and Ghantakarna.
Festivals: 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 (also see Changannur Bhagawati in Kerala). During this period the temple is
closed for three days and opened with great festivity on the fourth day. It is believed to
be inauspicious to till the ground or to plant seeds, during this three day period.
Kalighat Kali Temple in Calcutta