The Hindu festival of ‘Sital Sasthi’ celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu month of ‘Jyestha’ which corresponds to the months of May-June in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is celebrated with immense fervour all over India, especially in the Sambalpur district of Orissa. The carnival in Sambalpur attracts thousands of tourists from all over India and abroad. The three-day celebration is called ‘Sital Sasthi Yatra Festival’, wherein a family is chosen to play the role of Goddess Parvati’s family to propose marriage to Lord Shiva. Since Shiva is known as ‘Swayam Bhu’, no one plays the role of his family. The festival is attended by a large number of ‘Hijras’ and ‘Eunuchs’, as Shiva is also referred as ‘Ardhanarishwara’.
Significance of Sital Sashti
According to the legends, Goddess Parvati, an incarnation of Goddess Sati, performed rigorous ‘jap’ to please Lord Shiva. On the day of Jyestha Shukla Paksha Sasthi, Shiva was impressed with her austerity and agreed to marry her. The festival also marks the beginning of monsoon season. It is also said that Shiva wanted to know how deeply Parvati loves him. So he incarnated himself as ‘Batu Brahmana’ and met Parvati. He later asked Parvati why she wanted to marry someone who lives in a graveyard, wears snakes as ornaments and who is unaware of his own ‘kula’ and gotra’. To which she replied, she is marrying him for his knowledge and not for his looks. She further stated that she will not accept anyone else as her husband. Satisfied with her answer, Shiva appeared in his divine self.
This year, around 5,900 artists from across the country are expected to participate in the carnival, which comprises of folk dance, folk music, and different floats. The major attraction of the festival is the grand carnival, also known as the homecoming procession of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. During the ceremony, the family of the Goddess welcomes the procession. While from the groom’s side, someone dressed as Hanuman and Narsimha take charge of the procession to the bride’s residence. The idols of Shiva and Parvati are placed in the palanquin, while the parents of Parvati perform the ‘Kanyadaan’ and the marriage is solemnised.
Sashti tithi begins: June 18, 2018 at 8:55 am
Sashti tithi ends: June 19, 2018 at 6:40 am