Though all human are the creation of God, only few are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to become the parents of the divine spirits to hold the divine wedding. But the 300-year-old traditional annual fest, which depicts the marriage ceremony of lord Shiva and Parvati, provides opportunity to every one to take part in the ceremony which is being performed with all intricacies of human rituals.
The fest, commonly known as Sitalsasthi, has begun in Sambalpur from Saturday, June 4, with the celebration of Patrapendi (negotiation), Guagunda (invitation) on Sunday and Marriage on Monday night. The festival will continue till Wednesday, June 8, after the return of newly wedded divine couple to their respective temples on completion of street procession that began on Tuesday night.
Sitalsasthi is a week long festival that begins from 2nd day and concludes on the 8th day of Jyesta (June-July) every year. Though there is no definite evidence to describe when the festival has first taken place in Sambalpur, the available document and evidence claim that the festival is about 300 years old. “The present temple of Bom Barad Balunkeswar (lord Shiva) located at Nandapara was constructed in the year 1780-81. But prior to the construction of the temple Sitalsasthi was celebrated in the place. So we presumed that the festival is 300 years old in Sambalpur” senior member of Nandapara Yatra committee, Prafulla Hota, said.
Sitalsasthi, Hota said, is mainly observed by Jharuapara, Nandapara, Modipara and Badbazar Yatra committees. It is also performed in Balibandha, Thakurpara, and Budharaja area of Sambalpur town.
The main attraction of the festival is the marriage ceremony of the lord Shiva with Parvati. A couple is selected to perform the marriage who would adopt Maa Parvati as daughter. All rituals, like going with baraat to bride’s house, panigrahan, and kanya bidaya, are being performed at the bride’s house – in almost the similar way as happens in routine human marriages.
“The festival is though based on the marriage of lord Shiva and Parvati, it is done as per the rituals going on in the human society. When human couple becomes the divine’s father and mother to perform the divine's marriage, god becomes the family members of a human being,” senior member of Yatra coordination committee, Amulya Mishra, said.