Kamakhya

Kamakhya

ORIGIN:

India

Kamakhya is a Tantric goddess who presides over a famous shrine in Assam, northeastern India. The Kamakhya shrine is among the fifty-one Shakti Peethas: holy shrines located where the different parts of Sati’s body fell. (

SEE ALSO:

Sati.) The Kamakhya Shrine is special as it is located on the spot where:

• While still alive, Sati engaged in erotic delights with Shiva

• Her vulva fell to Earth

Kamakhya may be another name for Sati. She may also be a pre-Hindu Assamese goddess who has been absorbed into Hinduism as an avatar of Sati. (Kamakhya is also occasionally identified with Tantric Hindu Tara.) Although there are different facets and interpretations of her myth, one way or another, Kamakhya is a spirit of women’s generative power and death.

She is the menstruating goddess who radiates supreme female generative, reproductive power, which means she may be petitioned for personal fertility but also that she has the power to banish evil spirits, especially malevolent ghosts and the walking dead. The meaning of her name is unknown. It is sometimes translated as one who is worshipped by Kama; because according to myth, Kama regained his body at her shrine (following a curse cast by Shiva, which rendered him formless). Other etymologists suggest that the name is not Sanskrit and may relate to words for “corpse” or “ghost.” Kamakhya presides over ghosts and spirits and prior to the construction of her temple may have been worshipped in cremation grounds. (The present temple structure dates from the 16th century and is formed in the shape of a bee hive.)

The Kamakhya Temple is considered the highest seat of Tantricism. Devotees come to venerate the goddess but also to seek out the many mystics and holy people who congregate here in order to request their assistance with healing, romance, fertility and changes in fortune.

ICONOGRAPHY:

Kamakhya is not personified. She is venerated in the form of a vulva-like stone over which a spring of water flows

COLOUR:

Red

Sacred site:

Kamakhya Temple, Nilachal Hill in Assam, India

Sacred times: Festivals honoring Kama khya are held throughout the year; this is an exceptionally popular temple; the center of Tantric India; a particularly popular festival occurs on the 7th day of the Hindu month of Ashaad, corresponding in time to the astrological sign Cancer. This festival honors the goddess’ menstrual cycle: the water in the springs turns red, possibly with the help of some vermillion powder.

OFFERINGS:

Flowers, incense, pilgrimage

SEE ALSO:

Kama; Sati; Shiva; Tara (1)

SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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