Girls and women menstruate. Some animals do too. But a goddess who’s on her period? In the Kamakhya temple in India, place of the womb and vagina of goddess Sati, this happens every year.
According to an Indian legend, the goddess Sati (also known as Kamakhya) committed suicide because her father insulted her husband Shiva. Insane with rage, Shiva placed the dead body of his beloved on his shoulders and did the tandav, the dance of destruction. The god Vishnu, who didn’t want the cosmos to get disrupted by this dancing, cut Sati’s body into pieces and scattered them across the earth.
Water turns red
Everywhere a part of Sati’s body fell down, a shrine for the goddess was erected. Her vagina (also called yoni) and womb fell on the Kamakhya hill in Assam, now home to the Kamakhya temple. There, Sati is honoured in a natural cave (the womb), in the shape of a yoni-like rock with a spring. Once a year, in June, the temple remains closed for three days as the spring water turns red: the goddess menstruates.
Nobody knows exactly how or why this happens. Some say the water colouration, which always happens during the monsoon, is caused by iron oxidation. Others claim the temple’s priests dye it with vermillion powder. Whatever the reason, when the goddess menstruates it’s party time. During the Ambubachi Mela people celebrate the fertility of the Earth and the female life power. Devotees can obtain ‘prasads’, pieces of cloth dipped in the goddess’ menstrual blood, which will bring good luck and power.