New Delhi, Dec 2: A coffee table book seeks to uncover the enigma around goddess Kamakhya by showing her in all her splendour and also what she represents - female energy of creation, of movement, of the dance of life, of living, of power, and of strength.
The Kamakhya temple, perched atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, is considered to be one of the greatest shrines of tantrik Shaktism, which was an important religion in Assam during the medieval period. Wellness consultant Mala Barua wanted her book "The Divine Feminine: Maa Kamakhya, the Bleeding Goddess" to show the "living" goddess and also how she is worshipped in everyday life.
"I wanted to show Maa Kamakhya in all her splendour as Shakti, as a Tantric goddess, as a boon giver, as a destroyer of evil, as a nurturer and as a lover," says Barua, founder of Delhi-based luxury wellness firm Mystic Asia.
The book, replete with stunning photographs, has forewords by veteran journalist Mark Tully, art critic Alka Pande, INTACH chairman Maj Gen (retd) L K Gupta and Swami Anubhavananda.
Barua calls Maa Kamakhya an awe-inspiring and eclectic goddess.
"What makes her so enigmatic and magical is her sense of mysterious power. With infinite supremacy, she sits atop Nilachal hill overlooking the mighty river Brahmaputra," she writes in her book.
According to the Sanskrit text Kalika Purana written in Assamese, Kamakhya temple is built on the spot where the 'yoni' or female organ of Lord Shiva's wife Sati fell after Shiva danced with her corpse.
The author says the goddess "defies all other temples that do not allow menstruating women to enter the premises for being 'unclean'. Here in her temple, she seduces men to apply a little 'sindhoor' (red vermillion powder), taken from the yoni, on his forehead".
"In the inner sanctum of the temple, she is not represented by any form of idol or goddess. She is simply symbolised by a stone in the shape of a yoni, from which flows a perennial spring keeping it eternally moist," the book says.
"It is always covered with a red cloth and flowers. Devotees are allowed to touch and sometimes, even drink from the spring, with a prayer that it will rid them of the cycle of birth and death," it says.
Barua also writes about the temple's famous Ambubasi mela, when all activities in and around the temple are banned for three days every year as the "Devi menstruates".
During the three days, the devotees wait outside the temple premises to have a first glimpse of the 'pure' goddess. After the goddess is bathed on the fourth day, the temple doors are opened and the devotees enter inside to pay obeisance.
The garments worn by the goddess during this period are distributed among the devotees who wear them as amulets as blessings of the mother.