Sheetala Saptami is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in honor of Sheetala Mata or Goddess Sheetala, who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and Maa Parvati. The word 'Sheetala' means 'coolness' or 'soothing'. The festival is observed on the seventh day (Saptami Tithi) of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the month of Chaitra, which usually falls in March or April.

The festival is mainly celebrated in North India, especially in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The purpose of this festival is to worship Sheetala Mata and seek her blessings for protection from diseases like chicken pox and smallpox, which are caused by heat and infection. Sheetala Mata is considered to be the goddess of healing and cooling power.

The rituals of Sheetala Saptami include:

- Taking a cold water bath early in the morning

- Offering prayers to Sheetala Mata at home or temple

- Performing various puja ceremonies like Abhishekam (bathing), Alankaram (adorning), Archana (reciting names), Aarti (waving lamps) and Prasad (offering food)

- Fasting for the whole day by women

- Consuming food that was prepared a day before

- Avoiding cooking or eating hot food on this day

- Donating food, clothes or money to the poor


The significance of Sheetala Saptami is:

- It commemorates the legend of Sheetala Mata saving a village from a deadly epidemic by cooling down their fever with her touch

- It symbolizes the faith and devotion of devotees towards Sheetala Mata who fulfills their wishes and grants them health and happiness

- It represents the importance of hygiene and cleanliness for preventing diseases

- It reflects the balance between heat and cold in nature and human body

Sheetala Saptami is a festival of healing and protection that invokes the grace and mercy of Sheetala Mata. It is a festival of wellness and prosperity that promotes good health and well-being. It is a festival of gratitude and charity that expresses compassion and generosity.