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Sitalsasthi - is observed on the basis of the marriage of Gouri and Shankar - as depicted in the Siba Puran. When Tarakasura the king of Narakapura was causing terror and devastation all over (Swarga, Martiya and Patala) all the Devatas approached Lord Vishnu to find out a solution. Lord Vishnu was undone; as Lord Bramha has bestowed a boon that Tarakasura can only be killed by the son of Siba. Tarakasura knew it well that after the death of his first wife, Sati, Siba was left bereft, withdrew from the world and roamed in the wilderness living a life of austerity and would never have a son; further Siba was in deep meditation. Lord Vishnu suggested all the Devatas to approach Ma Mahasakti and request her to take birth as Parbati. On the request of all the devatas Ma Mahasakti reincarnate herself as Sati (Parbati) born as the daughter of Himalaya and grew into a supremely beautiful young woman. Narada told many stories of Lard Siba to Parbati and persuaded her to seek Siba in marriage. Parbati set in meditation, but even after ages passed Siba’s dhyna could not be broken. Again all the Devatas approached Lord Vishnu to solve the problem. Suggested by Lord Vishnu, Kamadeva took his bow and threw kamabana at Siba. Siba wakes up – open his third eye – and burnt Kama as a punishment; since then Kama took the shape of Ananga. Whatever it is Parbati’s meditation was fulfilled.

 

Before the marriage Siba wanted to test Parbati, to know how deeply she wants him. He incarnates himself as a batu brahmana and told Parbati that, Oh! Parbati, you are young and beautiful, why do you choose to marry an old fellow who lives in smasana, wears tree bark - snakes as ornaments.  I know that Maheswara you want to marry, a half naked fellow, looks ugly, no one for sure knows his kula-gotra, and how could you ever be happy with such a nomad. Listening to the suggestion of the batu-brahman she got angry, and told Oh! Brahmana, ever after reading so much shastras you are still ignorant about Siba, how foolish you are? I am not bothered whether he is old or young, ugly or handsome I am not marring him of his handsomeness, I am attracted towards him for his knowledge. I will not accept any one else other than him in marriage.

Satisfied with all his test, Siba appeared in his divine self. On the Jesta Suklapakhya Panchami they got married. Kartilaya was born and later killed Tarakasura, and all beings lived happily ever after.

 

Sambalpur has earned the name as the Saiba tirtha and Sakti Pitha from the ancient time. The marriage of Siba and Parvati is celebrated as Sitalsasthi for several years from now. It represents the union of Siba and Mahasakti. No one for sure knows when actually it started. However, from the records it is known that for the last 300 years it is been observed.

 

Historical Evidence: King Ajit Singh son of Chatra Sai of the Chowhan dynasty (1695-1766) ruled Sambalpur, in a very peaceful manner.  It was possible only for his strong religious faith. As he was a Vaisnava in his believe and faith, used to spend much time at Puri. He wanted to establish Sambalpur as a religious place.  In the ancient time Saiba upask Brahmins were not there in this part. King Ajit Singh requested some Brahmin family from Puri to settle at Ajitpur Sasan (present day Sasan). This created displeasure amongst the tribal and other brahamana and people of other castes residing in the area. To create harmony amongst the tribal and other castes he establishes several temples in the area. Ajit Singh understood that Sambalpur was famous as a Saktipitha in the ancient time, and the union of Siba and Sakti were worshipped. Dewan Daxina Ray suggested the king to establish and contribute generously to the temples of the Astha Sambhu in the area. The temple at Huma the abode of Lord Vimaleswar the chief amongst the deities of the 'Asta Sambhu’ was already built by King Baliar Singh; later Ajit Singh built seven other temples for the Sambhus. (Kedarnath of Ambabhona, Biswanatha of Deogaon, Balunkeswar of Gaisama, Mandhata of Maneswar, Swapneswar of Sorna, Bisweswara of Soranda and Nilakanteswar of Nilji).

 

Keeping in view the famous Ratha Jatra of Puri, Ajit Singh started the Sitalsasthi Jatra the marriage of Hara and Parbati in Sambalpur on the Jesta Suklapakhya Panchami. The God and Goddess are married like human beings.Thal Utha (Begining), Patarpendi (Nirbandha), Guagunda (Invitation), Ganthla Khula are observed religiously.   As during the Ratha Jatra – Jagannath is treated as a Ganadevata, likewise manner Lord Siba and Devi Parbati are also treated as Ganadevata.

 

A family act as the father and mother of Devi Parbati, and offer the hands of Devi Parbati in marriage with Lord Siba. Since Lord Siba is ‘Sayam Bu’ no one act as his father and mother. However, according to the Sambhudhar paddhati and Basudev paddhati marriage between Lord Siba and Devi Parbati are observed. Where, the parent represents Himalaya, Dadhichi for Parvati and Ugrakhanta and Nilakhanta for Lord Siba.

 

Lord Siba starts his marriage procession along with other Gods and Goddesses from his temple. Hanuman and Nrusingha takes charge and leads the procession to the bride’s residence. The family of the Goddesses welcome the barat procession (as we do in our marriages). The idols are kept in a beautifully decorated palanquin, the father and mother and other relatives of Devi Parbati performs the Kanyadana and the marriage is solemnised. The next day the procession returns back to the temple (Mandir Pravesh) with Devi Parbati, folkdance, folk music, different forms of other dances and music different medhas are the main attraction of this procession. People from all over join in large numbers in the procession. For two days Sambalpur turns into swarga, a devastali.

 

Kings are gone, kingdom vanishes still Sitalsasthi Jatra is celebrated till date with all its glory. Earlier only Jhaurapada and Nandapada were celebrating Sitalsasthi, since 1972 Mudipada has also joined the festival. After that Joint Coordination Committe formed. In this festival Different committees are formed; the administration, police and other department were also involved to see that the festival is observed in a peaceful manner.