Come to Western Odisha hub Sambalpur to witness the divine wedding
Visit Sambalpur, a major township in western Odisha, this time around every year you will have the glimpse of divine wedding, where lord Siva marries Goddess Parvati. Who knows you might be fortunate enough to get the opportunity to become the parents of the divine spirits to hold the divine wedding.
The wedding ceremony popularly known as ‘Sitalsasthi Yatra’ is celebrated annually in Sambalpur district of western Odisha with much pomp and gaiety. The carnival is celebrated as the wedding ceremony of Goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva. The annual festival believed to have the origin 400 years back provides opportunity for every individual to partake in the ceremony, being performed with all intricacies of human rituals.
The weeklong festival is observed during the summer season, which generally falls around May last or early June every year. It is generally the time of homecoming for many western Odisha people residing outside to be the part of the ceremony. Besides a number of tourists from and outside the country also avail the opportunity to congregate in Sambalpur.
However, according to Mythology Sitalsasthi is observed to celebrate the marriage of Goddess Gouri and Lord Shankar – as depicted in the Shiva Purana.
Demon king Tarakasur had unleashed a reign of terror across the world (Swarga, Martiya and Patala). Tortured by Tarakasura, the Gods prayed Lord Vishnu to find out a solution. Vishnu was undone; as Bramha had bestowed a boon that the son of Shiva can only kill Tarakasura.
Tarakasura knew it well that after the death of his first wife, Sati (Dakshayani), Shiva was left bereft, withdrew from the world, roamed in the wilderness living a life of austerity, and would never have a son. Further Shiva was in deep meditation.
Vishnu suggested all the Devatas to approach Shakti and request her to take birth as Parvati. Then, Shakti reincarnate herself as Sati (Parvati) born as the daughter of Himalaya and grew into a supremely beautiful young woman.
Parvati set in meditation, but even after ages passed Shiva’s meditation could not be broken. Again all the Devatas approached Vishnu to solve the problem. Suggested by Vishnu, Kamadeva took his bow and threw kamabana (Love Arrow) at Shiva. Shiva woke up and opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva as a punishment, ultimately aim of Parvati’s meditation was fulfilled.
On the Jyeshta Shukla paksha Panchami their marriage was solemnized, a son was born from their marriage, named Kartikeya who killed Tarakasura and saved the world from the demons’ tyranny.
During the Sitalsasthi, one nominated family acts as the father and mother of Parvati, and offers the hands of Parvati for marriage with Shiva. Since Shiva is ‘Swayam Bhu’(self originated)no one acts as his father and mother.
Shiva starts his marriage procession along with other Gods and Goddess from his temple. Hanuman and Nrusingha takes charge and leads the procession to the bride’s residence.
The family of the Goddess welcome the barat(bridegroom’s guests in procession) as it happened in our real life.
The idols are kept in a beautifully decorated palanquin, the father and mother and other relatives of Parvati perform the ‘Kanyadana’ and the marriage gets solemnized. The next day the procession returns to the temple with Parvati.
It is also believed that people celebrate the festival to pray the rain God to provide them reprieve from the scorching heat of the sun.