|The Devi Bhagavata
puts it thus: -
"During the first quarter of
the Ardra constellation, the Earth remains in her menses. The name of the Earth in menses
is Ambuvaci; your worship will be done on a day when that flow is stopped.
" The Devi Bhagavata continues: -
"Oh Sankari, one should not dig the earth even by the tip
of a needle. One should avoid sowing seeds for 24 praharas (i.e. for 72 hours). If one
sows by mistake, one should allow the cattle to eat the shoots up. If one eats, one should
perform a penance of Krchhra, and if one digs, one should perform a titakanchana (i.e.
make a gift of sesamum and gold), for (on that occasion) and the mother goddesses like
Durga remain in menses". 22
It is the time of the year when the Mother Earth attains her
fertility to conceive the crops. The agriculturists; particularly in Assam take this time
of the year to sow their first seedlings of the Sali paddy, which is transplanted after a
few weeks. To symbolise the occasion only red flowers, red vermilion, etc., are
used. Red colour signifies the menstrual flow. On this occasion pieces of red cloth, with
the deitys menstrual blood, are given to the votaries as sacred symbols. This fair
subsists even at present.
The Debaddhani festival is held in connection with the Manasa
Puja. It is so called because of the tremendous sound produced by the instruments such as
drum, Dhole, etc., used on the occasion. The worship of the goddess Manasa is a living and
powerful cult in Assam. She is worshipped with much adoration and ceremony particularly in
the districts of Kamrup, Goalpara and Darrang. She is also worshipped by the Kacharis. She
is generally worshipped in the months of Jaistha, Asadha, Sravara and Bhadra, and also
during times of pestilence and disease.
22. Quoted from Fairs and Festivals of Assam, p. 30