English meaning of the festival
Shitla, is an incarnation of Supreme Goddess Parvati who cures poxes, sores, ghouls, pustules and diseases. Shitla literally means “one who cools”.
How the date is decided annually
Shitla Satam festival is celebrated on the 7th day of the Shravan month.
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Shitla Satam is celebrated to receive protection against smallpox or similar diseases.
How to observe/practice
The most important ritual of Shitla Satam is to avoid cooking food on that day. Family members must not consume fresh food, and hence, on the day of Randhan Chhath just before Shitla Satam, most people prepare food in abundance. This food is sufficient enough to be taken the next day, i.e., the day of Shitla Satam. On the pious occasion of Shitla Satam, devotees take bath in a lake or river before sunrise and establish an image or idol of Shitla Ma. Then it is decorated using turmeric powder, sandalwood paste, vermillion (Sindoor), or Kumkum. People read Shitla Mata Vrat Katha or story to gain blessings of the goddess. As per the customs, only one meal should be taken on this day.