Kamakhaya Temple: My Personal Experiences

The story of the Bleeding Goddess

Kamakhaya Temple is one of the oldest among the 51 Shakti-Peeths. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya.

Like any other pilgrim destination, Kamakhaya too has many interesting stories of origin. My favourite, Khamakhaya was built where the ‘Yoni-Mudra’ [vagina] of Goddess Sati fell! As per legends, when Sati was insulted by Daksha [Sati’s father] during a religious ceremony, she couldn’t bear the pain and jumped into the ceremonial fire. When Shiva came to know about Sati’s death, he created havoc with his Tandav [dance of destruction] holding on to his beloved’s mortal remains. Shiva was unstoppable in his grief! Lord Vishnu stepped in to pacify Shiva, and cut the body of Sati with his Sudarshana Chakra. Pieces of her body fell at 51 different places, each known as a Shakti Peeth.

According to popular belief, every year in the month of June, the Goddess mensurates, when Brahmaputra river around the temple turns red in colour.

Lamps at temple
Diyas [lamps] at Kamakhaya Temple [Picture credits: Upasana Dahal]

By Force or By Faith

I usually don’t go to temples but when I do it is usually to admire the architecture, relish the `Prasad` [offering of sweets/fruits] and for the stories & pictures. Recently, I visited Kamakhya Temple for the third time in 5 years. Every time I visit, the practices there repulse me more – separate lines for people who can pay extra to get a front row meeting with God, shops indirectly forcing you to buy stuff from them in return for petty services, priests threatening you with ill luck for donations.

Such drama, executed with impeccable planning & precision! An iota of faith is all you need to get caught up in this web of deceit.

Temple in India
Kamakhaya Temple Complex

Goddess is sleeping!

The first time I visited Kamakhaya, it was around late noon and the gates were closed. The Goddess was resting, but a panda [priest] promised me to wake Her up & get Her blessings for Rs.500. I wouldn’t have to stand in line and wait for the turn or even move from where I was standing other than shelling out Rs.500. No points in guessing what i did!

I left without seeing the Goddess. I offered my prayers outside her abode, which were later fulfilled 🙂

Bells in a temple
Wishing bells at Kamakhaya Temple

An audience with Her

The second time at Khamakhaya, I returned to thank Her. Walking past the usual queues & pandas, I chanced upon an adjoining temple from where I could see Her through the iron grills. I was elated to see Her and pray to Her. I couldn’t understand the need to be inside the dark hall or the sense of accomplishment in touching the idol! Will She like me more if I touched her?

One Last Time at Kamakhaya Temple

I visited Kamakhaya two weeks back. A friend wanted to go and I tagged along. This time I saw animals being prepared for ritual sacrifices. People being extorted by pandas. A priest almost ignored us and very reluctantly put tika [vermilon on forehead] as we didn’t donate any money to the temple fund.

Sheep for slaughter
Ready to be sacrificed [Picture Credits: Upasana Dahal]
Every visit to Khamakhaya is a new experience. Over the years, I have become more tolerant and patient.

Religion sells

Religion sells more than anything in India. Fear of the unexplainable, forces us mortals to follow rules that are senseless to sane minds. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist but I am not a devotee either. I lost faith early in my childhood days.

But with age, I have realised that the acceptance of his existence gives us hope & peace. So I believe in God, but despise the rituals & practices in It’s name! Do we really need messengers to communicate with such a divine & supernatural force?

author --
If it wasn't for some dear friends who backed out of a trip to Ladakh, Suman wouldn't have been sharing these travel stories today! It was an eye opener, her first solo trip. Beyond the shenanigans of youthful days, Suman experienced a world of many dimensions. With her words, Suman hopes to share and inspire.

18 thoughts on “Kamakhaya Temple: My Personal Experiences

  1. one of the best temple i have ever seen, last year i went to siliguri and sikkim, and kamakhaya was part of our tour. We enjoyed journey from train, and booked little resort in kamakhaya. One of the amazing place i experienced.

  2. The place looks so authentic to me. I am a bit tired seeing similar churches in Europe. How did they feel about you photographing there?

    1. Hi Alexander, thanks for dropping by. Its a major pilgrim site and an equally famous stop-over for travellers. They are fine with photography as long as you do not disturb their rituals or invade their personal space. Are you planning to travel to India?

    1. Thanks for dropping by Sara (and taking time to comment). This is one of the many stories around the legends behind this temple. Have you been to Assam?

  3. That is pretty interesting that you had 3 completely different experiences. I can’t believe that they would “wake up” the goddess if you paid them. We also go to temples for the architecture and the history. The story of how it came about is interesting.

  4. I’m not a religious person so I have no qualms in turning down paid blessings but It is something that I hate too. I too have visited temples around the world more for their architecture and I hate when approached by priests who force donations – The one that surprised me the most was when a Buddhist monk did it to me in Cambodia. Such a shame when people who are meant to be religious figures see tourists and try to rinse them of cash.

  5. I’m completely unfamiliar with these temples, or India in fact! Thanks for sharing your personal story. A very interesting read.

  6. I couldn’t have put it in better words – your ‘Fear of the unexplainable, forces us mortals to follow rules that are senseless to sane minds.’

  7. That is exactly why i do not visit temples. Temples or any religious place for that matter is the last place where i feel ‘GOD’ resides – with people crushing you all over and no place to breathe, the constant odour from sweat, oil burning and withering flowers and the pandits trying to thug you to give money by touching absolutely any idol’s feet! I feel more at peace and definitely feel god exists when i adore his natural creations like beach and mountains!

  8. I think it’s finally the devotion that we have…the goodness that we carry in our hearts that the Gods or Goddesses need…not sacrifices or pompous rituals. But then, society has a way of functioning with their own rituals. However superstitious or ridiculous they may be, it’s hard to get rid of that system. The best we can do is be true to ourselves, first. 😊

Do share your thoughts or ask a question here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: