Somatirtha Purohit

The divine marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, popularly known as Sital Sasthi, is a popular festival in western Odisha. The festival, with a rich history of over 400 years, was first celebrated with posh and pump in Sambalpur with the participation of hundreds of devotees.

This year, the Sital Sasthi Jatra is going to be held on May 24.

As per the rituals, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are adopted by two families as their son and daughter. It is considered to be a great fortune as these families become parents of these divine couple. Their wedding ceremony ‘devadampati’ is conducted by following all traditional Hindu rituals of marriage.

The wedding takes place in Jyeshtha Shukla Panchami of the Hindu calendar, and after that, the deities return to their temple on ‘Sasthi’ which is accompanied by a huge procession known as Sital Sasthi Jatra. Like Sambalpur, in other districts of Odisha, the festival is celebrated with great joy and happiness.

As per mythological beliefs, Goddess Parvati performs rigorous ‘tapasya’ to get Lord Shiva as her husband. After being satisfied with her ‘tapasya’, Lord Shiva decided to marry Goddess Parvati on this particular day and hence, this day marks beginning of the monsoon season. As the festive is considered to be the bringer of monsoon, devotees celebrate it with much fervour.
All you need to know about the marriage rituals of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati:

1.    The couple, who had been the parents of Goddess Parvati the previous year, opens the ‘Gainthala’ of the divine couple and hand it over to the new parents of the deities

2.    Patarpendi (Nirbhandha): As per the rituals, engagement of this divine couple is done by the new parents

3.    Invitation to Gods: Formal invitation goes to all temples in the town urging the deities to join the auspicious marriage function

4.    Then groom’s side comes with procession to the ‘parents’ house of Maa Parvati 

5.    Batabaran: When Lord Shiva on ‘Brusabha’ reaches bride’s house, the ritual is performed by father of Maa Parvati to welcome Lord Shiva as ‘Jamata’

6.    Galaseka and Bandapana: This ritual is being performed by mother of goddess Parvati and other women

7.    Then the marriage rituals is performed on mandap or bedi as per Hindu customs

8.    Barabadhu pratyabartana: After marriage on the next day (morning), the divine couple returns to the temple.

In this marriage, the parents of Goddess Parvati give some gifts to their daughter as humans give gifts to their daughters during marriage.
This is the festival where people consider Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati as their own son and daughter and everything goes on like a human marriage.