(Sheetla Ashtami falls in Feb/March/August)
The Sindhis call it 'Satain'or
'Nandhi Thadri' According to a Sindhi Pandit 'Small Satain' falls 7 days before
Raksha Bandhan. Big Satain falls one day before Janmaashtami. I asked the Pandit
what was the corresponding name in Hindi, and which Deity is worshipped. I was
informed that Satain is called Sheetla Saptami, and Mother Sheetladevi is
worshipped. The Pandit informed me that most people pray to Mother Sheetladevi
to ward off measles, chicken pox, small pox…for a happy marriage and to
perform 'mundan' cutting of the hair,(tonsure) of the children… Sindhis cook 'Meetha
lolas', and mothers sing:'Thaar Mata Thaar, Munhje bachran khe thaar'…
Which means Cool my children (Possibly from the heat of the fevers…)
The original Temple of Sheetladevi is in the State of Haryana, in Gurgaon,
which originally was called "Guru Gram" Guru Gram was gifted by the
Pandava King Yudhishtra to his guru Dronacharya. Dronacharya's wife Kripi stayed
in a cottage nearby. When Mata Kripi, an ideal wife, gave up her body, a temple
was constructed in her memory. She came to be known as Mata Sheetla or Mata
Masani, the goddess of small pox. The temple is also referred to, as 'Shakti
Peeth' Many people visit the temple, but most pilgrims flock there during the
month of Chaitra (March, April) and the month of Shravan (July August) There is
a Seetla Devi Temple in Bombay (Mahim).
There is also a Sheetla Devi Temple in Chennai (India)
The temple has been set up by Mr.Raghavan. The Goddess appeared in his dreams
and asked him to set up a Temple for her at Madipakkam in Chennai. The temple is
being set up since three years, and all the functions pertaining to Sheethala
Devi Mata are being performed every year.
There are various legends connected with
the Sheetla Devi Temple.
1) A poor carpenter had a beautiful daughter. A Mughal Emperor wanted to
marry her. The poor carpenter was distraught as he did not wish that his
daughter should marry, someone from a different religion. The carpenter asked
the prince of Bharatpur to help. The prince started his journey, but on the way,
the horses refused to move. An elaborate worship of the goddess was arranged.
The horses moved. The prince promised to build a temple of the goddess, if he
returned victorious. The prince won and a proper temple was built.
2) As two queens proceeded to a pilgrimage to Pushkar, they got into an
argument as to who would take the first dip. The kings entered into the quarrel.
King of Bharatpur attacked the king of Ajmer. King of Bharatpur won the fight,
and built the temple.
3) A Brahmin woman broke the rules of ritual worship, and her family died.
Frantic, she ran. In a forest, she saw an old woman in flames. The Brahmin woman
got some curds and extinguished the fire, on the old woman (Sheetla Devi).
Sheetla Devi asked the Brahmin woman to apply the curd to her husband and
children. The Brahmin woman did as she was told. All of them were brought back
These stories have moral value. Maybe they instill faith. Maybe eating cold
food and not lighting the kitchen fire, is not done for a day, to give the
housewife a well earned rest. Maybe eating cool food, is good for the digestive
system. Maybe not lighting the kitchen fire is cooling for the ailing child. We
are asked not to give antibiotics to a child suffering from chicken pox, measles…Today
we know that these are viral infections. And I marvel at the Elder Hindus,
making every facet of life, even an illness, into a spiritual experience.
Sheetla is believed to weaar a yellow saree, the colour of Vasant/Spring.
She carries the pox germs in a golden water pot and spreads them with a fan.
She likes sweets made with jaggery and cleanliness.
She is worshipped as Muthumariamman, goddess of diseases, in Pondicherry and
Tamilnadu. A fair is held in her honour in Jaraga Village, Punjab.