Sambalpur: The famous Sital Sasthi festival of Sambalpur officially began today. However, in the wake of Covid 19 pandemic, the festival will be observed this year as a low key affair while only the rituals will be performed amid presence of only a few persons. The Sital Sasthi Jatra will be held in Sambalpur from June 11 to June 17. Sital Sasthi is the festival in which Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are adopted by two families and their wedding is done. And later they return to the temple in a procession.
As per reports, the ‘Thala Utha’ ritual, which marks the beginning of the famous Sital Sasthi Festival, was performed today abiding Covid restrictions. As per the tradition, the said ritual is performed on the Akshay Trutiya day.
Today ‘Thala Utha’ was performed at the main Sital Sasthi Jatra Committees at Nanda Pada for Balunkeswar Baba, at Jhadua pada for Lokanath Baba, at Modi pada for Jageswar Baba and at Bada bazar for Sitaleswar Baba.
During this occasion the selection of father and mother of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati also takes place. Accordingly, Gopal Chandra Sahu and Pramila Sahu were chosen to become father and mother of the God and Goddess in Nandapada, Basudev Chindra and Jagnyaseni Chindra chosen for Jhadua pada and Sumanta Swain and Bandita Swain chosen for Modi pada.
In ‘Thala Utha’ ritual, flower and bale leaves are put on a disc where devotees donate for organisation of the festival. However, this year due to corona pandemic only one or two members will go from door to door for collection of donation.
In the meanwhile the Jatra Committees and the family of the couple who will be the father and mother of the Goddess will start preparation for the festival.
This year there is no big excitement for the festival due to Covid pandemic. Following today’s Thala Utha ritual the other rituals that will be performed are Patarpendi, Deva Nimantrana, Wedding of the Lord and Goddess and return of the divine couple to the temple. This year only all these rituals will be performed while there will not be festivity due to Corona pandemic.
Today, ‘Thala Utha’ ritual was also performed for Lord Kapileshwara Baba in Barpali of Bargarh district. It is to be noted that Sital Sasthi is a major festival widely observed in different cities and towns of western Odisha including Sambalpur, Balangir and Bargarh.