The Kamakhya Temples’ Complex of Assam located on the Nilachala Hills is one of the world’s most important sites of goddess worship. As the yoni (vulva or womb) of the great Mother Goddess, Kamakhya is literally and figuratively the birthplace of modern Shaktism. As a pilgrimage center for Hindus, Buddhists, and practitioners of various streams of Tantrism for well over a thousand years, the Kamakhya temple has developed a uniquely syncretic religious culture influenced by indigenous, Dravidian, Aryan, Mongoloid, Austro-Asiatic, Buddhist, and Tantric beliefs and rituals. The rituals and festivals celebrated at the Kamakhya Temples’ Complex are unique, and the result of over two thousand years of socio-cultural and religious evolution, assimilation, and syncretism. The current tradition, with its unique systems of homa (oblations), pūjā (worship), kriyā (rituals), and bali (sacrifice), represents a complex negotiation between orthodox and heterodox systems and practices held in balance by the sevaits of the temple, the ancestral community that resides at and serves the Peethas of the Temples’ Complex. The essence of the system and tradition is its practical approach and rhythmic style of the Puja / Ritual dominated by the Kulacara Tantra Marga.
Rooted in its rich history of yoginis, siddhas, sadhakas, saints and kings, the religio-social system and traditions have been maintained within the familial and ritual lineages of the local Sebaits for many centuries. That process continues today through careful and consistent maintenance, constant research, and practical application of traditional systems and procedures, much of which are kept secret to maintain their sacrality and power.
Through their ancestral affiliation and continued service, the Sebaits of the Kamakhya Temples’ Complex have successfully conserved and protected the integrity and unique character of these traditions with sincerity and dedication. These traditions, which traditionally foster and value greater equality regarding gender, caste and religion, have deeply influenced the growth and development of the unique religious system and culture at the Kamakhya Temples’ Complex.
Though it is an inseparable part of Guwahati (the metropolitan hub of Northeast India), the state of Assam, and broadly India, the tradition, culture and society of the Kamakhya Temples’ Complex remains markedly different and distinct from that of Guwahati, Assam and from the pan-Indian religious and cultural perspective.
The socio-religious system and related traditions of the Kamakhya Temples’ Complex are by nature very tolerant and secular. All devotees, irrespective of caste, creed, belief, nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation, are allowed to enter all the sanctum sanctorums and touch the Peethas for darshan and worship of the presiding deities.