|Sheetla Mata Fair|
The Sheetla Mata Fair of Chaksu, Rajasthan is dedicated to Sheetla Mata, goddess of epidemic diseases such as measles, chicken pox, etc. The fair is organized on an annual basis in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April), on Krishna Paksh. The venue of the Rajasthan Sheetla Mata Fair is village Seel-ki-Doongri, 5 km from Chaksu and 35 km from Jaipur. The temple of Sheetla Mata is located on top of hillock in this village, known as Doongri. The duration of the fair is one day only.
The shrine of Sheetla Mata houses a red stone representing the deity. Legend has it that it is the rage of Sheetla Mata that leads to epidemics. So, in order to calm and placate the Mata, devotees pray to her and make offerings. Devotees from across the miles come to visit this fair and pray to Sheetla Mata. At the time of the fair, a temporary market comes up. The villagers are seen doing business for various items like shoes, clothes, foodstuff, utensils, agricultural implements, etc. Another attraction is a cattle fair organized during the fair.
Sheetla Mata fair is organized every year. The fair is celebrated for seven days in the months of March and April in the Seel-ki-Doongri village that is almost 5 km away from Chaksu while 35 km from Jaipur. The fair is arranged near the temple of deity Sheetla Mata which is situated on the top of small hill of this village, which is locally termed as Doonrgi. The fair is held with a purpose, as per legends, to please the goddess Sheetla Mata who is considered the deity of epidemics. So annual worship and offering are done through this fair in order to please her so that she does not get angry and bring several scourges and endemics to people.
Worship and Offering
According to legends, Sheetla Mata is the deity who leads to plagues and epidemics when angry. So to please her and calm her down, devotees pray before the deity and make several offerings as per the customs. Devotees across the country come to visit the temple of the Sheetla Mata and to attend the fair. People prepare various kinds of foods on this auspicious day, termed as Sheetla Asthami and make a visit to offer their prayers and Puja to the deity on this fair.
Daily Aarti, the prayer is done to the deity that is performed by the local Pujaris, Brahmins. The food is offered to the goddess and this food is termed as Prasad and includes Rabri, Bajra and curd. These three are the core requisites of the Prasad and as per local lingo; it is referred to as Baseda. There are also numerous rituals as well as religious activities that take place during the fair. People give food to old & some needy people to seek their holy blessings.
Cultural Programme or Activities in Sheetla Mata Fair
During this fair, a temporary yet large bazaar comes up in the village. The local villagers are seen doing some trade for a variety of items like clothes, shoes, foodstuff, agricultural implements, utensils, and many more. Another cultural attraction of this festival is a Cattle Fair that is arranged during the fair. Moreover some musical events are also arranged by some tribal communities. In this event, participants from various groups display their admirable talent. The other thing to enjoy is local food.