Shitala Hindu Goddess Of Disease  

Posted by Stella Clark

Shitala Hindu Goddess Of Disease Image
"SHITALA" (SHE WHO MAKES COLD) IS THE HINDU GODDESS OF DISEASE, A PESTILENCE DEITY BUT ALSO AN IMPORTANT HEALING FORCE IN THE HINDU PANTHEON. SHITALA IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR HINDU DEITIES WHOSE ORIGIN CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE DAYS OF NATURE WORSHIP. SYMBOLICALLY, SHE REPRESENTS THE POWER OF VIRUSES WHICH CAUSE DISEASE AND THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE. SHE HAS A STRANGE APPEARANCE, BUT DOES NOT APPEAR AS TERRIBLE AND FRIGHTENING AS HAS KALI IN SOME OF HER MANIFESTATIONS.

SHE IS USUALLY DEPICTED AS BLACK AND DARK LIKE KALI, WEARING A RED DRESS WHO IS GENERALLY SEEN RIDING THROUGH THE VILLAGE ON A DONKEY. SHE CARRIES A SILVER BROOM, WINNOW FAN, SMALL BOWL, AND A PITCHER OF HOLY WATER FROM THE RIVER GANGE. SHITALA IS A HOT AND DANGEROUS GODDESS WHO, IT IS SAID, CREATED THE DREADFUL DISEASE OF SMALLPOX AND THAT ONLY SHE HAS THE POWER TO CURE THOSE WHO ARE SICK. SHE DESPISES DIRT AND FILTH SO THOSE WHO WISH FOR HER BLESSINGS NEED TO BE RITUALLY CLEANSED--THEIR BODIES AS WELL AS THEIR HOMES.

SHITALA IS ALSO THE PROTECTOR OF THE GRANARY, COMMANDER OF THE WINDS, AND GIVER OF AMPLE RAIN, GOOD CROPS, AND ABUNDANT FOOD. AT THE TIME OF THE MONSOON, THE VILLAGERS GATHER AROUND HER TEMPLE, AND WHILE THE WOMEN COOK FOOD, THE MEN SING HYMNS IN SHITALA'S PRAISE IN THE HOPES THAT SHE WILL BLESS THEM WITH A BOUNTIFUL CROP.

SHITALA HAS THOUSANDS OF SHRINES THROUGHOUT INDIA, MANY OF WHICH ARE THE SITES OF LONG AND FESTIVE FAIRS. IN FACT, THERE IS HARDLY A VILLAGE IN THE COUNTRY WITHOUT ONE. IT IS COMMONLY BELIEVED IN THE VILLAGES THAT DURING THE DARKNESS OF NIGHT, SHE EMERGES FROM HER TEMPLE AND ROAMS ABOUT LOOKING FOR HER PREYS. WITH THIS IN MIND, THE VILLAGERS, IN PARTICULAR THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN, AVOID GOING CLOSE TO HER TEMPLE DURING THE NIGHT.

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This entry was posted on 7 February 2009 at Saturday, February 07, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

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