Sheetla Mata: Wishes get fulfilled with Kuldevi
Sheetla Mata, the Goddess of smallpox, is the Kuldevi, and it is believed that worshipping her with enthusiasm and pure heart prevents the outbreak of diseases. Around 321 years old back, Sheetla Mata took birth and had the name ‘Sita.’ Her mother was Lajwanti and father’s name was Ramu. The mundan ceremony of her infant brother was held during which she fell into the underground meal maker. Meal maker is called ‘daan’ in Hindi, and she got burned in that. That time she was just five years old, and after sometime, her brother also died, unfortunately. Her parents tried their best to have a baby, but all the prayers and attempts failed. Finally, they started worshipping their ‘Kuldevi’ only to get their wishes fulfilled. With the blessing of Mata Sheetla, a baby was born. From that day onwards, the parents started worshipping her with full enthusiasm. This entire episode was a great miracle and an awe-inspiring event. It clearly shows that worshipping Mata Sheetla can fulfill every wish.
Also called Shitala, Shitala Mata is the folk deity, who is widely worshipped by people of several faiths in the North India. In Nepal, Pakistan, West Bengal, she is also worshipped. Sheetla Mata is the very incarnation of Goddess Durga, who cures Pox, ghouls, sores, Pustules and other painful diseases. According to one story, Goddess Katyayani or Goddess Durga took birth to kill all the evil and arrogant demonic forces. She was born to the sage Katyayan and slew the demons to free this world from evil forces. Hence, she destroyed all the demons sent by Kaalkeya. But, the demons started spreading incurable diseases to Katyayani’s childhood friends like dysentery, cholera, smallpox, etc. Katyayani, the incarnation of Goddess Durga, cured diseases of some of her friends but not all. In order to relieve this world from the deadly diseases and fever, Goddess Katyayani took the form of Mata Sheetla.
The form of Goddess Sheetla and other legends
Goddess Sheetla has four arms and took birth to relieve this world from deadly diseases. Each of the hands holds a broom, a winnowing fan, a drinking cup and the jar of cool water. The cool water of Sheetla Mata is thought to be very pious and by merely sprinkling the water on the deceased, the disease gets miraculously cured.
The legend of Katyayani and Bhatuk
After Sheetla Mata had cured all the disease, Goddess Katyayani told Bhatuk to confront and kill the demon Jwarasur. A great battle followed between Bhatuk and Jwarasur during which Jwarasur defeated Bhatuk. But Bhatuk disappeared after the death and got converted into dust. Jwarasur could not make out where Bhatuk disappeared. Bhatuk took the form of an awful male figure having three eyes and four arms. Bhatuk had the battle axe, the trident, sword and the head of a demon. Being pitch black in colour, Bhatuk’s eyes were ferocious and fiery. He wore the tiger’s skin and the garland of skulls around his neck. This is the very form of Lord Shiva or Bhairav, the servant of Goddess Durga. He clearly stated to Jwarasur that he was the servant of Katyayani, the incarnation of Goddess Durga. A long discussion took place and finally a fierce battle was fought. Jwarasur was killed along with all the demons he created during the battle.
The different names of Mata Sheetla
In Sanskrit, the term ‘Sheetla’ implies the ‘one who cools.’ In various parts of the subcontinent, she is worshipped under different names. Hindus and Buddhists call her ‘Maa’ or ‘Mata’ meaning ‘Mother.’ In certain traditions, Mata Sheetla is identified with Goddess Parvati. She has various titles like ‘Jagrani,’ ‘Thakurani,’ ‘Mangala,’ ‘Karunamayi,’ Dayamayi,’ and various other names. In the Haryana State, Mata Sheetla is Kripi, the wife of Guru Dronacharya.
Sheetla mata Temples
Sheetla Mata Mandir Gurgaon is dedicated to Goddess Sheetla. The Goddess is called by the name Kripi, Lalitha, the wife of Dronacharya. As per the Indian Epic, ‘Mahabharata,’ Dronacharya was the teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas. The temple in Gurgaon is dedicated to Kripi, the wife. Lalita devoted her life to look after the deceased or sick children. They were mainly those who suffered from smallpox. People addressed her ‘Mata’ out of great love, affection, and respect. More than three centuries ago, Mata Sheetla came to the dreams of Chaudhry Singh Ram, the holder of the village of Gurgaon. Mata said to him that she wished to come to Gurgaon and thus the temple was constructed. It is situated 2km from the bus stand of Gurgaon and 3.5 km from Gurgaon Railway Station.
वन्दे हं शीतलां देवी रासभस्थां दिगम्बराम्।
(अर्थ है : दिगम्बरा, गर्दभ वाहन पर विराजित, शूप, झाड़ू और नीम के पत्तों से सजी–संवरी और हाथों में जल कलश धारण करने वाली माता को प्रणाम हैं।)
Sheetla Mata Ashthami Festival
The tangy flavour of festivals and fairs has a distinct charm in Rajasthan. They serve as great opportunities for guests and visitors to have a peep through the rich culture and heritage of India. Sheetla Ashthami Festival is celebrated in the state of Rajasthan with great pomp and show. The fair takes place in the small hamlet of Chaksu, Jodhpur, Kaga and Jaipur. During the spring season in the month of March and April, it is celebrated with great zeal. Worshipping Sheetla Mata will prevent the outbreak of diseases. It is worth noticing the excitement and gusto of the festival. You can buy everything from the fair that takes place during the Ashthami festival of Sheetla Mata. Indigenous goods like shoes, agricultural and food items, etc. are displayed in plenty. Cattle are sold in the fair and people wear colourful and bright attires. A lot of religious and cultural activities take place. Certain communities observe the eighth day of Krishna Paksha as Sheetlashthami. In fact, the most pious one is certainly Chaitra Krishna Paksha Ashthami.
Mata Sheetla is the curer of deadly diseases. All throughout the North India, regions of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, she is worshipped with great zeal and passion. Chaksu, the fair, is dedicated to Mata. The shrine of Mata Sheetla is built in red stones. It is believed that the rage of Sheetla Mata only leads to an outbreak of diseases. Devotees pray in plenty and flock to her temples.