Shitala literally means "one who cools" in Sanskrit. Mata Shitala is worshiped under different names in various parts of the subcontinent. Shitala is more often called Ma and Mata (‘mother’) and is worshiped by Hindus, Buddhists and tribal communities. She is mentioned in Tantric and Puranic literature and her later appearance in vernacular texts (such as the Bengali 17th century Shitala-mangal-kabyas, ‘auspicious poetry’) has contributed to strengthen her status. Shitala Mata is mentioned in many scriptures, especially in Skanda Purana as the goddess of smallpox. She is both the cause of the disease and the cure. When Shitala Devi first arose from a sacrificial fire, Lord Brahma told her that humans would always worship her, as long as she carried the seeds of a particular lentil called urad daal. Along with her companion, Jvarasura, the demon of fever created from the sweat of god Shiva, she travelled to visit other gods.
Somewhere along the way, her lentils turned into smallpox germs, and anyone whom they visited came down with a fever and smallpox. The gods asked Shitala Mata for mercy, and requested her to take her load of germs and go to Earth. She agreed and together with Jvarasura went down to Earth. Their first stop was at the court of King Birat, who was a devotee of lord Shiva. King Birat agreed to worship Shitala and give her a place in his kingdom, but would not give her supremacy over Shiva, so she threatened to infect his people. He was not swayed, and Shitala Devi released 75 different kinds of pox on his people. The disease spread far and wide, and there were many deaths. Finally, King Birat relented, and Shitala Mata healed him and his people.
Shitala Devi rides on a donkey, and in her hands she carries a silver broom and a pot of water.
Details of Shitala mata idol :-
- Metal - Brass
- Height - 3 inches
- Base Length - 2.4 inches
- Weight - 75 grams (approx.)