The essay under consideration by Janet Chawla entitled “Celebrating the Divine Female Principle”¯ deals with the fair called Ambubachi Mela that is held at the temple complex of Kamakhya in the capital of Assam and is dedicated to a female process of menstruation rather than the goddess itself. Kamakhya or Kamarupa in the shape of yoni-like stone that is flown by a natural spring is Shakti peeth where the goddess serves a manifestation of maternity and erotism. According to the legend during the monsoon rains the power of menstrual seclusion of Mother Earth becomes available for its devotees. However, the Kamakhya mandir is closed to them during the fair, they are, moreover, not allowed to cook, perform puja and read holy books at the period. Janet Chawla (2002) goes on substantiating the idea of the sanctity of process rather than the goddess and considers the Prasad that is distributed in angadhak and angabastra. The former represents the fluid part of the body that is the spring water, the latter represents the cloth covering the deities body, that is a piece of cloth covering the stone yoni during the menstrual seclusion.
From the very beginning of the article Chawla provides readers with the data on the temples location and its goddess as well as outlines the rituals connected with it and followed by the devotees, but later on readers may notice that the article generally embraces a far wider range of questions concerning the way seasonal cycles of rains are connected with female physiology, that is the interrelation of earth and female body processes. Then Chawla (2002) introduces another piece of Hindu mythology dealing with the sacred sites of Durga, Kali, Lakshmi etc and the mythical grieving Shiva with her beloved Sati. The author further on informs of Sati’s returning to parental home on yagna, where Shiva had not invited him though. She was not accepted by the father and Sati had to sacrifice herself insulting the sacrificial fire. She defied the father and desecrated the Vedic sacrifice, polluting it with her body.
Chawla (2002) reports that recently in June about 300,000 pilgrims gathered to join the festival and sheltered in the temple during the mela. The scholar considers the problem from different angles and the main point lied not only in informing the readers of the role of Ambubachi Mela but in discussing the influence of the modern culture on the ritual and on the perception of it by contemporary feminist activists. They claim that despite as a rule women are the most pious, the patriarchal ideology definitely oppresses them. Female blood was regarded as polluting and depraving, that conception desacralized “the height of bodily power”¯ of females. Menstrual and postpartum taboos resulted in misconception of the notion and neglected the superiority of worshipping of the Goddess.
Feminists are legally and reasonably concerned with the liberation of women, as society guided with the sacred texts mainly controls women. Chawla (2002) cites Jayakar that points at the connection between the female body and procreative power. The researcher argues the importance of the Ambubachi worship of monsoon rain and menstrual flow that contributes to the female body’s world cultural representation. The author maps out perspectives on questioning with the help of Kamakhya the dominant religious legacies on female body processes as well as the gynaecological and obstetrical representation of menstrual flow and childbirth. It stands to reason that Kamakhya may contribute to changing the world view concerning the female body and observing it in the unity with nature and peculiar culture. Crowning it all, Ambubachi Mela will probably assist in reviewing the mystery of sexual pleasure and new life growing in a woman as well as will possibly alter the perception of female body image as it is.
Chawla, J.(2002). Celebrating the divine female principle. Retrieved from http://http://www.boloji.com/wfs/