Sheetala Saptami- Significance & Observance
What is Sheetala Saptami?
Sheetala Saptami is one of the most popular Hindu festivals which is celebrated in the honor of Sheetala Mata or Goddess Sheetala. People worship Sheetala Mata to protect themselves, their children and family members from getting inflicted from diseases like chicken pox and smallpox.
The major festivity is observed in the rural regions and primarily in the areas of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. In the various parts of Southern India, the deity is worshipped as ‘Goddess Mariamman’ or ‘Goddess Poleramma’. The festival of Sheetala Saptami is also celebrated in the name of ‘Polala Amavasya’ in the regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
When is Sheetala Saptami?
The occasion is celebrated at two particular time periods. First, it takes place in the month of Chaitra during Krishna Paksha on the day of Saptami (seventh day). And, then it is celebrated second time in the month of Shravan during the Shukla Paksha on Saptami. But out of the two days, the Sheetla Saptami tithi that falls in the Chaitra month is regarded as extremely significant.
Also See: When is Holi?
What Is The Significance Of Sheetala Saptami?
The relevance of Sheetala Saptami festival is clearly described in the Skanda Purana. As per the scriptures and Hindu mythology, Goddess Sheetala is an incarnation of Goddess Durga and Maa Parvati. Goddess Sheetala signifies the healing power of nature. On this auspicious day, the devotees and their children together worship and offer prayers to the deity to remain safe and protected from the diseases like chicken pox and smallpox. The term ‘Sheetala’ in a literal sense means ‘coolness’ or ‘cool’.
What Are The Rituals Of Sheetala Saptami?
- On this particular day, devotees worship and offer prayers to Sheetala Mata.
- People wake up early before sunrise and take a bath in cold water.
- After this, they visit Goddess Sheetla’s temple and perform various rituals and puja and offer prayers to the deity in order to attain a joyous, healthy, and peaceful life.
- To conclude the puja, devotees read or listen to the Sheetala Mata Vrat Katha.
- In some parts of the country, people also shave their head (Mundan ritual) to please the Goddess.
- On the day of Sheetala Saptami, the devotees abstain themselves from cooking and they only eat the stuff or food which was prepared a day prior. Consumption of hot and fresh baked food is completely prohibited on this particular day.
- People also observe a fast of Sheetala Saptami and women primarily do fasting for the well being and good health of their children.
What is Sheetala Saptami Vrat Katha?
There are various legends and stories associated with the Sheetala Saptami Vrat. As per one of the most significant legends associated with the festival, there was a king named Indrayumna. He was a generous and virtuous king who had a wife named Pramila and daughter named Shubhakari. The daughter was married to Prince Gunvan. In the kingdom of Indrayumna, everyone used to observe a Sheetala Saptami fast with keen devotion every year. Once Shubakari was also present at her father’s kingdom during this festivity. Thus, she also observed a fast of Sheetala Saptami as the ritual of the royal household.
To perform the rituals, Shubhakari along with her friends left for the lake. In the meanwhile, they lost their way to the lake and were seeking help. At that point in time, an old lady helped them and guided the way to the lake. She also helped them in performing the rituals and observing a fast. Everything went so well that goddess Sheetala Devi was too pleased and granted a boon to Shubhakari. But, Shubhakari said to the Goddess that she will utilize the boon when she would be in need or want something.
While they were returning back to the kingdom, Shubhakari saw a poor Brahmin family who was grieving because of the death of one of their family members because of a snake bite. To this, Shubhakari remembered the boon she was granted and prayed Goddess Sheetala to give life to the dead Brahmin. The Brahmin revived back his life. Seeing and hearing this, all the people understand the importance and auspiciousness of observing a Sheetala Saptami Vrat and performing puja. Thus, since that time everyone started observing the Vrat with firm devotion and dedication every year.