Sheetlasaptami is celebrated seven days after the Holi festival which is ‘Saptami’ of ‘Chaitra Krishna Paksh’ according to Hindu Calendar, ‘Sheetlasaptami’ consists of Sheetla derived from the Hindi word ‘Sheetal’ which means ‘Cold’ and Saptami means seventh.This festival is also known as ‘Basoda’ which literally means ‘Rotten’ but in this context, it means ‘Cold’.On this day people don’t ignite the ‘Chulha'(stove) at home and prepares the food in the night to be consumed on ‘Sheetlasaptami’ the next day.Women wake up early in the morning, takes bath and do ‘Puja’ of ‘Sheetla Mata’ who is an ‘avatar’ of ‘Goddess Durga’, Women serve the ‘Cold food and sweets’ prepared a night before to Sheetla Mata as prasad.The food prepared in the prior night involves puri,sabzi,pakodi,papdi,besan chakki and one summer delicacy famous in Mewar ie ‘OLIYA’ which is prepared by adding boiled rice to curd and adding cardamom powder, raisins, and dry fruits, it is prepared both sweet and salty.
Sheetla Mata has Donkey as her vehicle, she carries a ‘kalash'(Pot), a broom, and ‘Neem Leaves’.
Story behind ‘Sheetlasaptami’ tradition
There is a prevalent story behind practicing such tradition, the story has several version but the most common is- ‘There was an old lady in a village who use to worship ‘Sheetla Mata’ and use to have ‘Cold chapatis’, In that village no other person use to worhsip mata, One day the village caught fire and all the homes in the village got burned but nothing happened to the house of the old lady when everyone asked the reason the old lady said ‘It’s all because of Sheetla Mata’s blessings’ from that day everyone started worshiping ‘Sheetla Mata’ and having ‘Cold Food’.
Climatic importance of the Tradition
The tradition has great climatic importance too as it marks the beggining of the summer. The intake of cold foods is to realize the change in the weather especially ‘The Oliya’ which contains curd and keeps the body cool and it is also about praying that body and mind remains ‘Sheetal’ (cool) in the summer so that diseases stay at bay.
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