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Pronunciation : Coming soon ...

(Hindu Deity)SHITALA

Also known as SHEETLA, SHEETLA-DEVI, SHITALA-DEVI
Attributes : Coming soon ..
Festival days : Coming soon too ...
Vahana (Vehicle) : Ass

Hindu Goddess of smallpox - both the cause and the cure.

A prince was so desperate for a son he made a series of elaborate sacrifices to Brahma. But something went seriously wrong and a beautiful maiden arose from the sacrificial fire instead.

Having asked Brahma what her role in life would be she was told she was Goddess of the lentil. How special she must have felt! Still, Shiva promised her a companion and after a bit of slicing and dicing presented her with the three armed Jvarasura.

Things went from bad to worse when she discovered Jvarasura was the demon of fever and worse still as an Ass was the only thing she could find for transport.

Feeling a little short changed she paid a visit to King Birat demanding he give her presidance over Shiva in the worship stakes.

'I appreciate you're a Goddess' said Birat 'but your request is ridiculous!'

'Fair enough" replied Shitala "you asked for it!' ..

at which point she unleashed 75 different types of smallpox on the Kings people.

After much misery and death the king eventually relented, Shitala's supremacy was aknowledged and everyone was miraculously cured.

Shitala does house calls to those who worship her as long as they keep their home spotlessly clean, and will perform a bizarre small-pox cleansing ritual involving a silver broom, a fan and a bucket of lentils. I knew there was a reason behind the 'Goddess of lentils' thing.

These days Brahmans still perform rituals to appease Shitala in the hope of keeping children smallpox free with 50% of any potential offering payable upon reaching adulthood - if smallpox has been averted, of course. These Brahmans are a thrifty lot.
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'SHITALA' - Indian entry : 06 May 2007
Page last modified on 21 May 2008
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