World Celebrations: A Tantric Festival
Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. This week, we'll hear about celebrations of the sun and fertility.
The Festival of Ambubachi Mela takes place in India, at a time when the Goddess of Fertility becomes indisposed and her temple is closed to the public for four days. Outside, thousands of male and female devotees gather, hoping for blessings from the Goddess. She doesn’t have an actual statue, but is represented by a stone. This is also a time when Tantric Babas who are celebrating their Ameti, or fertility festival, get a chance to demonstrate the fantastic contortions they subject their bodies to, standing for hours on one leg or even their heads. As the event is held around the time of the monsoon rains, fertile ground is pretty much ensured, with or without the intervention of the Goddess Kamakhya.
It was started by the Incas over six hundred years ago, was suppressed by the Spaniards and resurrected in 1944. Today, the Festival of The Sun God of Cusco is an enormous dance and visual spectacular. Taking place on the shortest day of the Peruvian year, June 21st, the event was held to placate the Sun God, or Inti Raymi, in the hope that he would ensure a good harvest. Centuries ago, there was much bloodletting as hundreds of animals were killed in sacrifice. Today, the killing has been reduced to one llama, and that is a faked slaughter, entrails are produced and prophesies are made. Locals vie to play the character of the Sun God during the festival-- it is a much desired position as he is the center of attention and ferried around on a gold throne, presiding over the day’s activities. At the day's end, a form of communion is consumed, a concoction of maize and blood. The Sun God leaves the arena, and visitors and participants enjoy more dancing of an informal nature.
You can hear more about these and other celebrations happening around the world every Saturday night on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.