‘Sital’ means cold. Sixth day of the Odiya month Jyestha where from the earth begins to become cold is sitalsasthi on which day Lord Shiva returns in a Carnival with Goddess Mata Parvati after marrying her. Hence the name ‘Sitalsasthi’. Amazingly it has been marked that during Sital Sasthi may it be a small wave but it definitely rains.
Sitalsasthi Yatra is one of the cultural festival of Odisha. This festival is also known as the “Festival of Divine Wedding”. Though all human are the creation of God, only few are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to become the parents of the divine spirits to hold the divine wedding. But the 300-year-old traditional annual fest, which depicts the marriage ceremony of lord Shiva and Parvati, provides opportunity to every one to take part in the ceremony which is being performed with all intricacies of human rituals.
The Sitalsasthi festival is though based on the marriage of lord Shiva and Parvati, it is done as per the rituals going on in the human society. When human couple becomes the divine’s father and mother to perform the divine’s marriage, god becomes the family members of a human being.
Sitalsasthi is a week long festival that begins from 2nd day and concludes on the 8th day of Jyesta (June-July) every year. Though there is no definite evidence to describe when the festival has first taken place in Sambalpur, the available document and evidence claim that the festival is about 300 years old. “The present temple of Bom Barad Balunkeswar (lord Shiva) located at Nandapara was constructed in the year 1780-81. But prior to the construction of the temple Sitalsasthi was celebrated in the place. So we presumed that the festival is 300 years old in Sambalpur.
History Behind the Sitalsasthi Yatra
According to Mythology demons have created indiscipline from time to time in this world and finally punished by Gods. Tarakashura was also one of this series. He had got a boon from Brahma that he will only be killed by the son of Lord Shiva.However, Lord Shiva, after the death of Goddess Sati was practicing intense austerity and was no more interested to marry again. Taking this opportunity Tarakashura was trying to win over heaven, earth and underworld. Tortured by Tarakasura, the Gods prayed Lord Vishnu, who suggested them to request Goddess Sati to take the turn. Accordingly When Mata was requested she became agree to take incarnation as Parvati. For a long time Lord Shiva was not agreed to marry but tough meditation of Mata who had been taken birth as the daughter of Himalaya and Maina could make him agreed. Now, the marriage was celebrated and their son Kartikeya killed Tarakasura and saved the world from the demons’ tyranny.
Sitalsasthi Yatra in Odisha
Besides Sambalpur of Odisha , Sitalsasthi is celebrated in so many other places of western Odisha. Out of them Sitalsasthi of Barpali and Balangir is considerable. Since last so many years Sitalsasthi at Balangir is also gained wide acceptance as a massive festival and the whole district merges in the spirit of divinity and celebration during this auspicious occasion.