Sitala, Sītala Devi (in Bengali) or Māri (Tamil) is the Goddess of Smallpox or the Goddess of Disease in popular or non-Vedic Hinduism. Goddess Māri (மாரி is known as Mariamman, "Mother Mari" (மாரியம்மன் spelt also Maariamma (மாரியம்மா Smallpox is an Infectious disease unique to humans caused by either of two virus variants named Variola major and Variola minor. Hinduism is a religious tradition that originated in the Indian subcontinent. She is also generically referred to as the Village Goddess (Skt. Gramadevata). Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical
The worship of this Goddess is very extended among the lower castes in India. India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country The name Sītala (Skt. "the cold one") is used in Northern India, while the same goddess is known as Māri (probably from an ancient Dravidian word meaning "rain") in the Southern areas of the Subcontinent.
Although she is commonly referred to as the Goddess of Smallpox, presently this generic goddess is actually related to other epidemic diseases as well, like cholera. Sitala, Sītala Devi or Māri (Tamil is the Goddess of Smallpox or the Goddess of Disease in popular or non-Vedic Cholera, sometimes known as Asiatic cholera or epidemic cholera, is an infectious Gastroenteritis caused by the Bacterium Her protection is invoked when a village is attacked by any epidemic. In Epidemiology, an epidemic (from Greek epi- upon + demos people is a classification of a disease that appears as new cases in a She can therefore be compared with the orisha Babalu Aye of the Yoruba tradition. An Orisha (also spelled Orisa or Orixa) is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God in the Yoruba spiritual In the religious system of Orisha worship Babalu Aye (also known as Omolu Shonponno Obaluaye and Sakpata is the spirit of illness and disease
Village Goddesses are local. They are always connected with a specific locality or place. Therefore their name is always preceded by the name of their location, like for example: Karumari Amman (Tamil Nadu) or Attukal Amma (Kerala).
Villagers in South India usually erect humble little shrines to this Goddess. During worship she is referred to as "Amma" or mother. Certain trees, like the Neem, the Bo tree, the Palmyra palm, the Ashoka tree and the Papaya are related to this deity, therefore some of the Village Goddess' shrines are under a certain tree. Neem ( Azadirachta indica, syn Melia azadirachta L Antelaea azadirachta (L The Sacred Fig ( Ficus religiosa) or Bo-Tree (from the Sinhala bo) is a Species of Banyan Fig Borassus ( Palmyra Palm) is a genus of six species of fan palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New The Ashoka tree (lit "sorrow-less" ( Saraca indica L or S The papaya (from Carib via Spanish) is the Fruit of the Plant Carica papaya, in the genus Carica.
Most caste Hindus and members of modern Hindu politico-religious movements claim that all these village goddesses are but a version of goddess Kali, incorporating thus these non-Vedic deities into the mainstream Hindu pantheon. Kali redirects here See Kali (disambiguation for other uses Not to be confused with Kali (demon, the personification of Kali Yuga However, this view is challenged by certain militant Dalit intellectuals, like Kancha Ilaiah, who claim that village-deity worship in India is a separate religion. Dalit is a self designation for group of people of South Asian descent who were traditionally regarded as untouchables or low Caste. Kancha Ilaiah is the Chairman of the Political science department at Osmania University, a Social activist and author
There are a number of festivals connected with the village goddesses, but they lack the regularity and steadfastness of Vedic rituals. Traditionally villagers were prompted to worship the Goddess only when in trouble, but modern-day goddess shrines have increasingly introduced scheduled regular festivals.
In case of epidemics, villagers try to propitiate their goddess by means of blood sacrifices, usually sacrificing a cock or a goat at her shrine. The often deadly disease is interpreted by villagers as having incurred the wrath of their divine Mother because of having neglected her.
Unlike the Vedic goddesses, there is not much in the way of established iconography for the Indic village goddesses. There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities. They are usually portrayed wearing a red dress, red being the colour of the goddess. The iconography of the village goddesses is mostly derived from the stories related to them.
Sitala Devi, the Northern version of the village Goddess is usually portrayed as a woman sitting on a donkey holding a broom in one hand and a winnowing fan in the other. She might be naked or wearing a red dress.
Māri is portrayed in the sitting or standing position mostly holding a trident (trisula) in one hand and a bowl (kapala) in the other. One of her hands may display a mudra, usually the abhaya mudra, to ward off fear. A mudrā ( Sanskrit: मुद्रा lit "seal" is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. She might have more than two arms and might be represented in two optional ways, one displaying her pleasant nature, and the other her terrifying aspect, with fangs and a wild mane of hair.