Sitala Ashtami

Sitala Ashtami

March-April; eighth day of the waxing half of the Hindu month of Caitra
Sitala Ashtami is a Hindu festival honoring Sitala, goddess of smallpox. She is named for the chill typically experienced during high fever. She is believed to have the power to protect people from smallpox and to give people smallpox, and her blessings are invoked for protection against the disease.
On this day, Hindu women visit the nearest Sitala shrine in the morning, offering the goddess rice, homemade sweets, cooked food, and holy water mixed with milk. In some places colorful fairs are held near Sitala's shrines, and there is merry-making, dancing, feasting, and the buying and selling of wares.
SOURCES:
DictHindu-1977, p. 278
RelHolCal-2004, p. 185