Guwahati: Among the many lores of the Kamakhya Temple atop the Nilachal Hills here, the belief in the annual menstruation of the goddess has evoked interest since ages and now Assam’s award-winning author Rashmi Narzary has woven a fascinating tale of creation and a mother’s overpowering love against the backdrop of this myth.
“Bloodstone – Legend of the Last Engraving” is Narzary’s latest book of fiction wherein the various legends of Kamakhya find themselves threaded with the story of a Newar family, in more recent times, in the remote village of Tilibham in Nepal where the Mother Goddess is worshipped with equal fervor.
“The story projects the power of the female, the strengthening of the subdued and the sheer capacity of a mother’s love and I have highlighted this against the backdrop of the temple’s famed annual ritual celebrated as the festival of fertility and creation-the Ambubachi Mela,” Narzary told PTI.
The author said that she grew up understanding that Kamakhya’s lore had some historical basis to it.
“There have been mythologies, legends and tales which may just be pure fictitious stories, probably stories told by grandparents around the fire ages ago and I thought of adding my own story-by-the-fire to it,” she said.
The author often visited the revered Kamakhya Temple and everything around it, and it never ceased to give rise to a whole lot of questions in her mind each time.
“Part of the story developed as answers to some of my own questions and honestly, it did not strike me then that I was writing a fictional work on a Goddess who has such a huge influence, not only on me but people across the region and beyond,” the Sahitya Akademi award winner for Children’s Literature said.
In the underground sanctum sanctorum of the four-chambered Kamakhya temple, which is one of the ‘shaktipeeth’, the pilgrims worship a stone fissure in the ground shaped like a vulva, believed to be the genital of goddess Dakshyayani, lord Shiva’s consort.
The fissure is believed to bleed once every year during the Hindu month of ‘Aashaar’.
Against the backdrop of this legend, the tale of the Bloodstone spans across centuries in time and embraces both the divine and the mortal.
“This is the tale of a copper engraving etched by Dakshyayani’s friend Princess Ambaa of Nepal as she mourns the death of her only friend. Centuries later, the ancient buried engraving is unearthed while a virgin land is tilled by the ruins of the palace, which threaten to alter prehistoric beliefs,” Rashmi Narzary pointed out.
Asked about the connection between Kamakhya and Nepal in the book, the writer said that she happened to see a small family from Nepal at the temple yards and they had a very charming, happy little girl with them who looked almost like a little goddess herself.
“This sparked off an idea and of course, Kumaris or pre-pubescent girls, are as much worshipped here as in Nepal. Thus, there already existed a connection and also because the neighbouring country, too, had so much of Shiva and His consort woven into its history and culture, that little stray stories around them were more probable,” she said.
The writer, who is also the joint secretary of North East Writers’ Forum (NEWF), said that she had drawn from “just one of the many tales that surround the many ‘shaktipeeths’ where every clan, tribe and community have their own intriguing story to tell about age-old practices but at the end of it all, I see that the truth and lore often merge into each other, giving a new perspective to the original truth”.
The original draft of the book, published recently, was written seven years ago by the author of four books and she said that she shudders to think about the lines penned back then.
A character in the book prophesied “disease and death”, “fires of hell shall blaze on earth” alluding to the several forest and wildfires around the globe among other apocalyptic events.
“With the Ambubachi Mela cancelled this time for the second consecutive year, I just hope what I had penned as a work of fiction does not come true but at times fable take over facts and at other times, facts are so fascinating that they are mistaken for fable,” she said.
At the end of it all, however, “creation goes back to where it began…be they truth, be they tale, lore of the ancient past, never cease to bewilder,” Rashmi Narzary said.