The Royal place Jaipur is associated with a range of religious significance. The various fairs and festivals of Rajasthan are also a great attraction for tourists. Fair and Festivals of Rajasthan bear great significance for tourists, as they reflect rich culture of “Land of Jewels”, Rajasthan. And when both of these combine, it becomes a must visiting center for tourists as well as local people.
Sheetla Ashtami is such a festival of great passion and zeal. It is also identified as Baseda. This festival is enjoyed by a large crowd as it boasts a unique charm to it.
When and Where?
Sheetla Ashtami is best celebrated in Seel-ki-Doongri (Chaksu), a small town in Jaipur district, approx. 35 km form Jaipur. There is a big temple of Sheetla Mata here. Doongri is a hillock on top of which idol of Sheetla Mata stand. Usually, it is celebrated in spring season and falls in the month of March or April. According to Hindu calendar it comes on 8th day of the waning moon (Krishna paksh) of Chaitra month. This day comes 8 days after the colorful festival of Holi.
Common beliefs :
According to beliefs of local people, it is held in honor of Sheetla Mata, the goddess of disease, epidemics and disaster. Special prayers and rituals become the order of the day during this festival. The village folk have a belief that a number of epidemics (like small pox) spread due to wrath of Sheetla Mata, so the make a number of offerings to pacify deity who is represented by a red stone. People also have fast (no food) on the day. The fast terminates at mid day after invoking the goddess, by consuming the stale food, made one day before. A legend justifying the observance of this fast narrates that there were two families, one was of king and other was of an ordinary menial. Sons in these two families were infected with small pox. Menial was a god fearing person, who used to worship Goddess Sheetla everyday and religiously observed all precautions suggested to him in the name of goddess (which included isolation, not eating fried and hot food) and his son recovered soon.
On the other hand, King made big arrangement with saints, priests performing Yagya (sacred fire), cooked and fed many priests & poors and gave away a lot in charity. There was no restriction on prince for eating and he was allowed anything he wanted. Condition of prince deteriorated everyday, ultimately king sought the opinion of menial concerned who advised him the proper precautions, fasting and worship of Goddess Sheetla. The result was quick recovery of son of King.
A Vision of Festival
This festival is a combination of fair and festival in Chaksu. During this festival, nearby market boasts a different a different look to the celebration. It shows a variety of items like food items, agricultural implements and many other handmade things. This is not all; a number of musical and dance events give an extra light to fame of the festival. These events act as a platform to show talents of local people. Apart from bullocks, the rural merchants also trade for cattle, camel and horses.
For tourists, visiting the Sheetla Ashtami festival in Rajasthan is a time of gala. Various events and rituals of this festival give them a close look of rich culture of “land of kings”; Rajasthan.
Preparation of this festival starts one day before the festival. It is a ritual that no one eats anything hot on the day of Sheetla Ashtami so the devotees make all food one day before. The cause for this ritual is that everything has to be cool in nature that’s why this festival is also called as “Baseda”.
Festival holds and unusual lure for Rajasthani people and a highly recommended spot to visit for tourists and have a look to charismatic display of rural life and huge colors of celebration.