Goddess Santoshi or Santoshi Maa is a folk deity of Hinduism. She is called the goddess of satisfaction. She is also an incarnation of the Mother Goddess. Especially women in northern India and Nepal worship Santoshi Maa. They believe that the goddess is satisfied when her devotee observes a vrat called Santoshi Maa Vrat on the sixteen Fridays of the year.
The legend of Santoshi Maa was first preached in the early sixties. His popularity continued to grow through oral stories, books containing the significance of her vrats, posters, etc. Her popularity peaked shortly after the release of the Bollywood film ‘Jay Santoshi Maa‘ in 1985 though a temple of Goddess Santoshi was established in Jodhpur, India long ago. In the film, ‘Jay Santoshi Maa‘, the goddess was portrayed as the daughter of Lord Ganesha and a part of the original Nature. The goddess was born on the full moon day on Friday, so Friday is the best day to worship Santoshi Maa. She is a four-armed goddess. She holds a sword in one hand, a trishul in another and the Baravaya and Sanhar in the other two hands. She signifies wellbeing and prosperity and is believed to be extremely loving towards her devotees. The trident is a symbol of the three qualities (sattva, rajas and tamas) and the sword is a symbol of knowledge. The Hindu scriptures do not mention any story of Santoshi Maa , although the Devi Bhagavata Purana mentions that goddess Parvati was born on Friday and it was a full moon day. Goddess Parvati had been considered as four-armed goddess who gave Santosh (satisfaction) to the Himalayas through Devi geet (songs of goddess). In the Shakta tradition, Bhagwati Yogamaya is believed to be worshipped as different forms under different names.
Every Friday, when the devotees of Santoshi Maa observe a vrat, they read the vrat katha or legend associated with Santoshi Mata, the goddess of satisfaction. The legend says that there was a woman long ago. She was abused by her mother-in-law in various ways. The woman used to endure all kinds of torture and abuse of her mother-in-law because she loved her husband very much. A few days later, the woman’s husband had to go abroad for work. In the absence of her husband, the mother-in-law increased the level of abuse on her (the daughter-in-law). Being unable to bear the torture, the woman went to a temple where she could learn about the vrat of Santoshi Maa. She then decided to observe the vrat of the goddess by fasting for 16 consecutive Fridays. After observing the vrat on the first Friday, she noticed a change in the behaviour of her mother-in-law. Her husband also began to send her letters and money from abroad.
One by one, she continued to observe the vrat of Santoshi Maa on Fridays, and her life began to change. Within a few weeks, her husband’s earnings skyrocketed. After the return of her husband, the woman organized a vrat celebration on the 17th Friday. But her mother-in-law did not want her to celebrate the vrat of Santoshi Maa successfully. That’s why she (mother-in-law) fed the eight boys she (daugher-in-law) invited to eat sour food. It is strictly forbidden to feed sour food while celebrating the vrat of Santoshi Maa.
The woman’s husband suffered a great loss as she could not celebrate the vrat of Santoshi Maa properly. But later she decided to celebrate the vrat of the goddess anyway. This time she could celebrate the vrat successfully without any problem. Satisfied with the woman, Santoshi Maa blessed her. Realizing her own mistake, the mother-in-law apologized to the Santoshi Maa.
The birth story of Santoshi Maa is associated with the Raksha Bandhan festival. As per the story, once Ganesha’s sister, Jyoti came to visit him on Raksha Bandhan day. A special function was organized on the occasion. Jyoti tied a thread of Raksha on the hand of Ganesha and in return, Ganesha blessed her sister with peace, prosperity and pleasures. Seeing this, Shubh and Labh, the two sons of Ganesha wanted to know the significance of the function. They also wanted to know why their father gave such important blessings for a mere thread. Their mothers Riddhi and Siddhi explained the significance of Raksha Bandhan to the kids. Ganesha also explained the significance of the function to his sons. He had said that it was not only a thread but also a symbol of unparalleled love and bond.
Impressed by the Raksha Bandhan ritual, Shubh and Labh were saddened. As none was tying the threads on their hands, the two brothers cried. They took a pledge from their father for a sister.
Lord Ganesha is one who always fulfills the desires of his devotees. So he could not ignore the pleadings of his sons.
To fulfill the wishes of his sons a celestial light emerged from the body of Ganesha and his wives Riddhi and Siddhi. Then it (celestial light) took the form of a young girl. This girl born from the light was goddess Santoshi, the daughter of Ganesha who is worshipped as Santoshi Maa. Santoshi calmed her two brothers by tying the threads of Raksha on their hands. The brothers only had gram and jaggery in their hands and they offered it to her. Santoshi accepted it with great love and affection from her brothers.
Santoshi Maa Vrat follows some rituals that should be held only on Fridays as the goddess was born on Friday. To obseve the vrat appropriately you should maintain the following rituals.
*Select an appropriate place to offer your prayers and puja and clean it properly
*Take a bath early in the morning and place the deity on an altar where you want to do the puja. Decorate the place with flowers and place a kalash to mark the beginning of this puja.
*Offer your prayers first to Lord Ganesha. Thereafter, offer your prayers to his consorts, Riddhi and Siddhi.
*Fill water in the kalash that has been placed, and keep offerings (a small bowl of gram and jaggery) on it. Never offer anything sour like lemon or curd.
*Read the entire Santoshi Maa vrat katha to the devotees sothat everyone can hear the story and say together – “Santoshi Maa ki Jay.”
*Finishing the vrat katha, perform Aarti and sprinkle the holy water from the kalash to every corner of your house.
*At last distribute prasadam to everyone present in the place of the puja.