Dedicated to Goddess Sheetala, Sheetala Ashtami is celebrated on the Ashtami Tithi of Krishna Paksha in the month of Chaitra, just after the colourful festival of Holi. It is believed that Goddess Sheetala or Sheetala Mata controls the onset of small pox, chicken pox and measles. People worship her and observe a fast to prevent the outbreak of epidemic diseases. It is more popularly observed in north India, in states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Sheetala Ashtami Important Timings

Sheetala Ashtami Puja Muhurat 06:35 a.m. to 06:36 p.m. on 16th March
Sunrise 06:45 a.m.
Sunset 06:29 p.m.
Ashtami Tithi begins 03:19 a.m. on 16th March
Ashtami Tithi ends 02:59 a.m. on 17th March

On the day of Sheetala Ashtami, people don’t prepare any fresh food as fire isn’t lit for cooking. Devotees follow the custom of offering stale food to the Goddess, because of which, this day is also known as Basoda.

Sheetala Ashtami Food

As per age-old traditions, devotees do not lit fire for cooking purposes on the day of Sheetala Ashtami. Thus, most people prepare Basoda food one day before, which includes preparing sweet roti, rice and gulgule using gud, and namkeen besan puri.

Sheetala Ashtami Vrat and Puja Vidhi

On the day of Sheetala Ashtami, people perform Goddess Sheetala’s Puja and observe to get blessed with good health and relief from epidemic diseases, especially to protect their children.

  • Devotees wake up early, before sunrise and take a bath (often in sacred water of a lake or river).
  • People either visit the temple of Sheetala Mata or install an idol of her seated on a donkey, on the bank of a river.
  • Devotees worship the Goddess with all Puja rituals and a true heart, using stuff like haldi, chandan paste and flowers.
  • After the Puja, devotees make offerings to the Goddess using the food cooked one day before, such as namkeenpuri, bajra, curd, rice mixed with ghee, rabri and fruits. The rice offered to the Goddess has to be eaten by each of the family members later.
  • Once the offerings are made, people listen to the Basoda Vrat Katha and take blessings of the Goddess as well as their elders.
  • The food is distributed among devotees and is also offered to the poor and the needy, after completion of Puja rituals.
  • Women of the house observe a day long fast on this day to seek the blessings of good health by Goddess Sheetala. They dissolve their fast with the food that was offered to the Goddess.

All devotees refrain from consuming anything ‘hot’ on this day; not even tea is prepared. It is believed that the ones who observe Sheetala Ashtami Vrat are able to ward off their homes and children from the outbreak of epidemic heat-borne diseases like small pox, chicken pox and measles.