Shitala Satam (Saptami)(Deity presiding over the disease of smallpox. On this day, food
cooked on the previous day (unheated) is eaten by the Vratdhari)
This vrat is observed in the month of Sravana on the seventh day of the dark fortnight. On this day Shitalamata’s puja is performed after taking bath with cold water. One cold meal is eaten during
It is written in the Skand Purana that donkey is the vehicle of Shitalamata. Shitalamata holds a broom in her one hand and a kalash (container with water) in her other hand. The one who observes the Shitala vrat bathes in a river or in a lake. There Shitaladevi’s image (murti) is placed on the banks of river or lake. Shitaladevi is offered cooked food and ghee. On this day cold food is eaten; the food that was cooked the previous day (cooked on chhatthi or sixth day). For the vratdhari (one who observes this vrat), it is forbidden to eat warmed or hot food on this day.
Those who can afford it, can make golden image of Shitaladevi and together with the image of the vehicle (donkey) place the devi's image on eight petalled lotus flower. Offer obeisance with joined palms saying ‘My pranam to Shitaladevi’ and make puja. In some places people offer raw flour and gor (molasses) as naivedya to the devi. It is customary to eat only one meal on Shitala Saptami day.
Katha(from Bhavishyottar Purana)
In the olden days, Hastinapur was ruled by king Indralumna. His wife’s name was Pramila who was full of faith and devotion and was keen on performing religious ceremonies and rituals. They had a son, Mahadharma by name and their daughter’s name was Shubhakaari. She was given in marriage to prince Gunvaan, son of king Sumati who ruled Kaundinyanagar.
Prince Gunvaan lived up to his name. He was a virtuous prince. A year after the wedding, Gunvaan went to his in-laws to fetch his wife. The king (his wife’s father) asked his son-in-law to stay over because the next day was the day of Shitala Saptami vrat. The king invited a Brahmin and his wife for the ceremony of Shitala Saptami vrat. The king’s daughter Shubhakari mounted a chariot and with her female friends set out for the puja ceremony of Shitaladevi. The puja was to take place by some lake.
Unfortunately, they took a wrong turn and got lost. Leaving the chariot, they started walking on foot, and dispersed in different directions. Princess Shubhakari was overcome by fatigue and sat under a tree. She saw an elderly woman approaching her and asked her for directions.
“O girl, follow me and I will lead you to a lake” said the old woman and took them to a lake. The princess bathed in the lake and with devotion and faith, placed the image of Shitaladevi on a makeshift platform of stone. The old lady was herself Shitaladevi. She was well pleased. Placing her hand on the head of Princess Shubhakari she asked her to state her wish.
The princess said: “Mother, I shall surely ask when the need arises”.
Then the old lady (Shitaladevi) escorted the princess and her female friends to the lake where they were to meet the Brahmin and his wife. The Brahmin’s wife was heard crying aloud. Princess Subhakari went to her and saw that her husband was lying dead, apparently bitten by a snake.
Princess Shubhakari again bathed in the lake and concentrated her mind upon Shitaladevi and stated her wish: “Mother, please bring back to life this Brahmin”.
Bhagavati Shitaladevi was pleased and restored life to the Brahmin. Everybody was full of joy. They all performed Shitaladevi’s puja and returned home
People of Hastinapur were filled with awe on hearing that the dead Brahmin was brought back to life. The citizens together with the parents of the princess made a murti of Shitaladevi and celebrated this day in the manner of a festival. After staying for a few more days, Princess Shubhakari went with Prince Gunvaan to her in-laws. There also, being impressed by Shitalamata, they developed faith and devotion. It is said that the children of those who are Shitala vratdhai (who observe this vrat) do not suffer from smallpox and that their wishes get fulfilled.