Our country is a land of cultureand mythology. People all over the country follow certain customs and traditions.
The Hindu religion is polythesticand there are many prominent Gods thatare worshipped. People organise poojas and havansin order to please their godsand invoke their blessings. This ensuresgood health and wealth for all the family members.
The main tradition followed by the Hindus all across the country is having fasts. Fasting is believed to be a way to obtain 'Nirwana'and be closer to god. By giving up essential things such as food and water, we prove our whole dedication to godsand invoke them to get blessings.
Although men too fast at occasions, in Hinduism, we find women fast often and mostly due to various reasons. The KarvaChauthfast is kept for long life and well-being of the husband, while the Navaratri fast is kept to please MaaDurga for wealth and prosperity throughout the year.
All these fasts are very common in our country and most of us are aware of them. But did you know about one particular fast which women observe particularly for the well-being of their children?
The SheetlaShasthivrat is observed by women, mostly in the Northern part of our country and West Bengal, in order to receive happiness, good health and long life fortheir children. It is also called Bassiaura and is observed on the sixth day of the Shukla Paksha or the Magh month.
The main deity of this day is MaaSheetla, who is worshipped extensively by all the women to secure the blessings of god for lifelong happiness and well-being oftheir children.
Like all Hindu fasts, the fast of SheetlaShasti too has an interesting story behind it. Read on to know more.
The Story OfSheetlaShastiVrat:
There was once a female Brahmin who had seven sons. Despite all the sons being married, none bore her a grandchild. This made her worried and she started looking for a solution to her problem.
She then came across a learned man, who told her about the fast of MaaSheetla. He had also instructed her that the fast should be kept by strictly following certain rules. She agreed to follow the guidelines strictly and instructed all her daughters-in-law to observe the fast.
All of them were blessed with babies the very next year. But the female Brahmin continued to keep the fasts every year along with her daughters-in-law.
After some years, the female Brahmin was not that diligent in keeping the fasts and kept making mistakes. She took baths with warm water on the day of the fast and also ate freshly prepared warm food, all of which was strictly against the rules. Her daughters-in-law too started following her blindly.
On one such night after the fast, the female Brahmin saw a very bad dream and woke up suddenly. She started experiencing a burning sensation all over her body. On moving around the house, she noticed that all the family members were dead. Her seven sons, their wives and their daughters, all lay motionlessly on the floor.
On seeing this, she started sobbing hysterically. Her neighbours then informed her that this is the curse of MaaSheetlathat took the lives of all her family members. She couldn't take all this anymore and ran to the forest.
She then came across an old ladywho too was burning just like her. She instructed the female Brahmin to bring some curds in an earthen vessel and apply it all over her body to soothe the burning. That old lady was MaaSheetla herself.
The female Brahmin asked for forgiveness from the Goddess and pleaded to her to bring all her family members back to life. MaaSheetla instructed her to go home and apply the same curd to her family member. She did as instructed and all came back to life.
After that day, women all over the country observe the fast of MaaSheetlato pray for the health, happiness and well-being of their children.
Women follow certain rules when observing this fast. They wake up early in the morning and take a bath with cold water. They then do an extensive pooja of MaaSheetla by offering her day-old food.
Women too eat the same food,asfreshly prepared food should not be consumed during the vrat. In fact, people in the family who aren't fasting, should also not be served fresh food.
But there is an exception for the elderly or ill people in the family. This sacrifice makes MaaSheetla happy and she blesses the children of the fast observer with good health and long life.