Sambalpur: The Sital Sasthi festival known as the marriage of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parbati concluded in the wee hours of Wednesday in a low-key manner amid Covid protocols. The wedding rituals began at various Shiva Temples after Lord Shiva reached in groom attire last night which was followed by special Alati rituals.
Due to Covid restriction, the parents of bride had to visit the temple to bring Goddess Parbati to decorate her in bride attire. Then the ‘Bata Barana’ ritual was performed at the temple. The divine wedding was performed in the wee hours.
“The wedding ritual started at around 12.30 am and the ‘Hasta Bandhan’ ritual marking the end of the divine ritual was performed at 3.30 which is considered as a sacred movement. The newly-wed couple will have their lunch at bride’s paternal house at 12 noon today followed by Mangala Alati rituals. Thereafter, the almighty couple will bless the devotees. However, the devotees will give a miss to this most awaited divine movement due to Covid restrictions, said Sasank Sekhar Panda, a servitor.
Special festival is usually organised every year on the occasion of the Sital Sasthi. But, a ban has been imposed on festival and congregation of devotees. So, all the rituals have been conducted amid Covid protocols this year, he added.
“Some of the rituals are generally conducted at the bride’s house. But due to restriction, all the rituals were performed on the temple premises this year. Same thing had happened last year too, a participant said.
Lakhs of people usually congregate to witness the rare movement of the divine wedding which is conceived as a real marriage of a man with a woman from two different families. A couple is selected to play the role of parents of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
This year, the programme was conducted without much fanfare due to covid out break. The rituals were performed in presence of only a handful of participants. There was no barat procession or homecoming procession this year as administration had barred such activities.