The Kamakhya temple in Assam is one of the most venerated Shakti shrines in India, and is regarded as one of the Shakti peethams associated with the legend of Shiva and Daksha Yagna.
Kamakhya is located on a hill Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri in the city of Guwahati in Assam. Shakti, residing on the Kamagiri hill is known as Kamakhya, the granter of desires.
Kumari Puja (Virgin worship) is held at the Kamakhya temple every year. It is as old as that of the origin of Kamakhya. It is believed that the Goddess, although omnipresent, surely exists in the virgin. Reverence to female children as goddesses is an age-old custom of India.
It is believed that at Kamakhya, the Goddess appears in the form of a virgin. So, some of the pilgrims worship the living virgin as Goddess in this temple. Worship of a living woman as Goddess with the offerings generally offered to them is of purely Tantric origin. It is stated that virgin worship is nothing but Shakti worship. The virgin worship is performed along with Durga, Kali and other Mahavidyas. The salutation mantra of virgin worship is the same as vidya’s salutation mantra. Sometimes, it is also seen that the virgin is fed and clad and saluted without any mantra. The tantrics believe that the virgin is the Goddess incarnate. There is a dhyana for Kumari puja in Kamakhya. There is also avahana and salutation mantra.
Only the minor girls are allowed to take part in Kumari Puja. It is believed that if the adult girls take part in this puja, then the Mother Goddess will be unsatisfied. There is no caste bar in this puja. Virgins from the low castes are also worshipped.
Though the Kumari puja is observed every year at Kamakhya temple, there is a lot of debate regarding this puja. Many devotees do not support the worshipping of minor girls in Kumari puja.
(By Dhanakshi Buragohain on The Assam Tribune)