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Javalamukhi

Skt., jvalamukhi
Tib., me-lee zhal-mo

A unique and famous temple in Himachal Pradesh, India, located in a city by the same name (Jawalamukhi, 56 km from Dharamsala). The temple, named after the goddess Javalamukhi (Skt., the "Fire Faced One"), houses eternal blue flames of natural gas emerging from fissures in the dark rock; burning above a pool of water. These flames, regarded as the multi-tipped tongue of the goddess Sati and/or Kali, have given Javalamukhi the exalted status as one of the Shakta Pithas; in this case the one where her tongue fell down after her corpse had been dismembered.

For tourists and non-initiated pilgrims, local priests are eager to light emissions of gas in smaller chambers, yet elsewhere the main flame is kept alight continuously. The present sanctuary is contained in a simple, whitewashed building crowned with a squat golden spire. Since hundreds of years, the temple attracts pilgims of both Hindu and Tantric Buddhist denomination. Also, as Miranda Shaw suggests (p. 82), the temple has been the site of Tantric feasts such as the yogini gana; an assembly of yoginis to which men were allowed only sometimes.

It seems, that Javalamukhi is an ancient and originally Dravidian sanctuary going back to pre-Vedic times where once - and apparently still in 1997 - worshippers perform(ed) Tantric rituals that include cunnilingus (not necessarily hetero-sexual), mithuna viparita ("dancing on the lover") and even more "secret" techniques; such as stimulation of the yonishtana (between anus and genitals).

On the other hand, and not at all conducive to oral sexual play, devotees of the goddess Jvalamukhi/Kali/Chinnamasta are known to cut off their own tongues at this temple in order to demonstrate their ultimate faith in her - expecting that the goddess will restore it to them in her endless compassion.