My dad’s very auspicious in a very weird sort of way. He isn’t really religious; I just think spending so much time living among blood-thirsty demons, angry ghosts and ancestral spirits has gotten to him a bit. So when we land in Guwahati, the capital of Assam in North East India I am not surprised that he wants to make an offering to the gods to appease them and grant us a safe journey. As it so happens, Guwahati has a very special temple and we are arriving on the last day of an 8 day annual festival to worship the goddess Durgha.
“You see that red ring around the head of the temple?” my dad inquires
I look to where he is pointing, beyond the goats and pigeons that are standing around the head of the temple there is a small crevice with a fine line of red around it.
“That’s where the blood comes out. Every month they sacrifice goats and let the blood flow out of the temple to symbolize her menstrual cycle.”
“That’s pretty wild,huh?” he adds, looking at me out of the corner of his eyes to see my reaction. I don’t actually know how to react. Part of me does think it is crazy exotic and wild, part of me thinks it is animal cruelty, part of me thinks it is barbaric, part of me thinks that it’s a cultural relic of a past bound to die out with time. Before I can think to much we enter the dark, moist cavern and give an offering to the blood-thirsty Durgha to grant us her blessings for our trip.
Legend goes that way back when there was this King Daksha that had a beautiful daughter named Sati. Sati fell in love with Shiva and wanted to elope. Her Dad wasn’t stoked and decided to throw a huge party but not invite Shiva. He didn’t care, but Sati was furious and in defiance, threw herself into the cermonial fire at the party, thus committing the first official “sati”. Shiva was mad with grief and picking up her body, began to dance the dance of destruction. Seeing that he would destroy the entire universe Vishnu followed with his disc, cutting of bits of Sati’s body. Where they fell over India a temple was erected and this particular temple, Kamatkhya, is where her genitalia fell and is considered one of the most important female temples in India, if not the world.Hence the cute little goats tied to the fence of the temple, the monthly blood sacrifice and the moist, warm, blood smeared cavern that is meant to represent…well…
Pretty wild indeed.