Sheetala Ashtami 2020- 16 March 2020, Monday
Ashtami Puja Muhurat- from 6:46 am to 06:48 pm
Sheetala Saptami- 15 March 2020, Sunday
Sheetla Ashtami 2020 begins on 16 March, Monday at 03:19 pm
Sheetla Ashtami 2020 ends on 17 March, Tuesday at 02:59 pm
Widely known as Basoda Puja, the festival is dedicated to Goddess Sheetala. Sheetala Ashtami falls on every Krishna Paksha Ashtami after the grand festival of Holi. Commonly, it takes place after 8 days of Holi. However, according to religious beliefs, many people celebrate this day on the first Friday or Monday after the Holi celebration. In addition to this, one day prior to the celebration of Sheetala Ashtami people celebrate Sheetala Saptami. In general, both days have equal religious significance among the devotees.
People recognize this festival by numerous names like Sheetala Ashtami, Shitala Ashtami, and Basoda. Typically, the festival takes place in the Hindu month of Chaitra. Besides, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar, it falls in the mid of March or in the first week of April.
Indian Mythology mentions that Goddess Sheetala governs many diseases. According to the Best Astrologers of India, worshipping on Sheetala Ashtami frees devotees from illness. For instance, chickenpox, smallpox, and measles, etc.
Goddess Sheetala is a supreme incarnation of Goddess Durga. She is also known as Shitala and Sitala. Also, devotees call her by the name of Karunamayi, Bhagwati, Mangala, Jagrani, etc. According to the mythical mentions, she rides on a donkey. She has a broom and a Matka in her hands. Here, the broom is the symbol of cleanliness and purity. Whereas, the Matka symbolizes Goddess Sheetala holding thousands of Gods and Goddesses that dwell in the pot.
Sheetala means something that cools or calms down something. According to expert Astrologers, Sheetala Mata is the supreme deity that soothes and heals her devotees. Also, she is a supreme deity to pray for the cure of sores, poxes, negative spirits, ghouls, and pustules, etc.
However, people from North India, West India, West Bengal, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh celebrate the festival of Sheetala Ashtami to worship Goddess Shitala. She is mentioned in the ancient Bengali texts, Nepali texts. Also, people from different communities like Buddhists and tribals worship her.
There are many stories behind the celebration of Sheetala Ashtami. However, the most famous mentions about King Indralumna of Hastinapura. He has a daughter, Shubhakari who marries Prince Gunvan.
Once, the King invites them to take part in Sheetal Ashtami Puja. Upon this, Princess Shubhakari observes fast and the couple performs puja with utmost devotion. Pleased by this, Goddess Sheetala appears in front of them and bestow them with a boon of powers. Furthermore, on their way back to their home, they observe a family grieving over the merciless death of a priest. Upon this, the princess uses her boon to save the priest. As the priest comes back to life, Princess Shubhakari realizes her powers. Further, she determines to worship Goddess Sheetala and keep a fast on every Sheetala Ashtami.
Following are the core rituals that devotees follow on the Sheetala Ashtami-
Similar to most of the Indian festivals, Sheetala Ashtami has a significant value for fasting and Daan (donations). According to Indian Mythological beliefs, on the day of Sheetla Saptami, Goddess Shitala roams on the earth. She can come in any form to eat food. Therefore, you must not let any beggar go without eating from your door on this day. Always, offer them something to eat.
In addition to this, on Sheetala Ashtami you should feed animals and birds. If you have any bird or animal at your door, do serve them something. Plus, this day has a belief to eat and offer stale food. Thus, do not use fresh food and hot water.
Commonly, people of North India, Haryana, West Bengal, and Gujarat observe this festival. However, the ritual and Tithi of the festival may vary from one region to another. For instance, people of Gujarat celebrate the festival one day before the celebration Shree Krishna Janmashtami.
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