Legend of Sital Sasth
i After the death of Goddess SatiLord Shiva went into practicing severe austerity as he was no longer interested in family life. At this time a demon Tarakasura worshipped Lord Brahma and obtained the boon of being killed only by a son of Lord Shiva. On obtaining the boon Tarakasura created destruction on earth, heaven and hell and even drove out the 'devas' from heaven.
The Devas in despair approached Lord Vishnu for help but they were told about the boon granted to Tarakasura. He asked them to approach Mother Shakti for help. Shakti agreed to take rebirth as Parvati and marry Shiva.
Pravati who was born as the daughter of Himalaya only had Shiva in her mind and wanted to marry him. However Shiva denied to marry Parvati and went on continued with his intense austerities. Even Devas tried several methods but could not convince him.
Finally, Parvati began intense meditation and Shiva had accepted her. On Jyeshta Shukla Panchami, the divine couple got married and Kartikeyawas born who annihilated demon Tarakasura.
Rituals of Sital Sasthi
Sital Sasthi Yatra festival celebrates this divine wedding. During the festival, a family in the region adorns the role of the father and mother of Parvati and offers her in marriage to Shiva.
On the first of the festival, Patra Pendi day, the family adopts Parvati as their daughter. Two days later the idol of Goddess Parvati is brought at the home of her adopted parents. Later from her adopted home, the bride is taken in a grand procession for the marriage ceremony. The auspicious marriage ceremony takes place during the night.
On the other hand Lord Shiva, the bridegroom, arrives for the marriage ceremony along with other gods and goddesses in Hindu pantheon. The marriage procession is led by Lord Hanuman and Narasimha. All the important marriage rituals of Orissa are observed for the divine wedding. The following evening the divine couple undertakes a journey to the town known as Nagar Parikrama. This journey is known as 'Shital Sasthi Yatra.'
The festival is also termed as monsoon wedding of Shiva and Parvathi as the wedding is organised at the beginning of monsoon season. The intense austerity performed by Shiva is symbolically represented as the intense heat during summer season. Parvathi is the monsoon showers who calm Shiva. Farmers thus celebrate the arrival of monsoon with this divine wedding.
Sital Shasthi is celebrated in a grand manner at the Puri Lokhnath Temple, Bhvaneshwar Lingaraj Temple and Sambalpur temple. Thousands of devotees throng the temples to be a part of the event of Shiva Parvati marriage.