Sheetla Mata – A Popular Goddess in Ancient Bengal

Sheetla Mata

Sheetla Mata is a form of Mahamaya, the Divine Mother. She abates the irritation of our disease( fever, pox etc.) in this form. Adishakti Bhagwati assumes the form of Sheetla to take away the sufferings of the world people. Sheetla Mata was a very popular goddess of ancient Bengal.

Goddess Sheetla in Scriptures

According to Devi Mahatyam, Goddess Katyayani (another form of Divine Mother) took the form of Sheetla when a demon named Jwarasura gave fever to the children. Then Devi cured her devotees in the form of Shitala. In Sanskrit, Jwara means fever and Sheetla means coolness. In Skanda Purana, She is depicted as a two handed goddess. In ancient rural Bengal, she was a very popular goddess. So, she is thought to be a demotic goddess. Raktavati (possessor of blood) and Oladevi are two other forms of Sheetla Mata. She is also known to us as Thakurani, Jagarani, Dayamoyee and Karunamoyee.

Sheetla Mata
Sheetla Mata

Goddess Sheetla is seen to hold a broom, an Amritkumbh, a fan etc in her hands. All of these are symbolic. To sweep the dirt we usually use a broom, a winnowing fan etc. The mother chases away our disease and sufferings. So, she holds a symbolic broom. An Amritkumbh (a pitcher of nectar) is symbolically used for peace and a fan is used for calmness. She also sprays nectar with her broom for our peace. As we are cooled by a fan, Devi Sheetla holds it to cool her children. Sometimes she holds magosa leaves which is used to produce many herbal medicines. Village people grow margosa plants in their yards to prevent airborne diseases. Mother Sheetla’s mount is a donkey. It is also symbolical. We call the donkey a fool, but in fact, it works quietly for the owner. A donkey teaches us selfless action, selflessness. So, the mother’s mount is the donkey.

People’s Belief

Many people think that mother Sheetla is the carrier of smallpox and they get scared when they hear the name of mother Sheetla. The belief of those people is that mother gives us disease to get our Puja. Those people are very stupid. The mother never gives disease to her devotees and she is not a beggar of worship. The mother is Annapurna herself. Mother gives us rice we eat. So the mother lacks nothing. We offer the mother’s things to the mother. The mother comes not to give us disease, but to take away our disease and sufferings. There is no reason to be scared when we see our mother goddess, Sheetla. We should remember that the mother’s name destroys the disease.

Worship of Goddess Sheetla

Devi Sheetla is usually worshipped on the Saptami(the seventh day) in the month of Chaitra (March-April). In some places this puja or vrat is observed on the Saptami (the seventh day) in the month of Shravana (August-September). She is worshipped like other gods or goddesses in a temple (watch video below) or a suitable place.

Video: Sheetla Mata Temple, Jashore, Bangladesh

While worshipping the devotees of the goddess offer green coconut, papaya, watermelon etc to her. Then they chant –
Namami Sheetaladevi Rasbhastha Digambara
Marjani Kalshopeta Shurpalankrut Mastaka ||

Talker:Krishna Das

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