Sitala, Sītala Devi or Māri (Tamil) is the Goddess of Smallpox or the Goddess of Disease in popular or non-Vedic Hinduism. She is also generically referred to as the Village Goddess (Skt. Gramadevata).

The worship of this Goddess is very extended among the lower castes in India. The name Sītala (Skt. "the cold one") is used in Northern India, while the same goddess is known as Māri (probably from an ancient Dravidian word meaning "rain") in the Southern areas of the Subcontinent.

Although she is commonly referred to as the Goddess of Smallpox, presently this generic goddess is actually related to other epidemic diseases as well, like cholera. Her protection is invoked when a village is attacked by any epidemic. She can therefore be compared with the orisha Babalu Aye of the Yoruba tradition.

Village Goddesses are local. They are always connected with a specific locality or place. Therefore their name is always preceded by the name of their location, like for example: Karumari Amman (Tamil Nadu) or Attukal Amma (Kerala).

Villagers in South India usually erect humble little shrines to this Goddess. During worship she is referred to as "Amma" or mother. Certain trees, like the Neem, the Bo tree, the Palmyra palm, the Ashoka tree and the Papaya are related to this deity, therefore some of the Village Goddess' shrines are under a certain tree.

Most caste Hindus and members of modern Hindu politico-religious movements claim that all these village goddesses are but a version of goddess Kali, incorporating thus these non-Vedic deities into the mainstream Hindu pantheon. However, this view is challenged by certain militant Dalit intellectuals, like Kancha Ilaiah, who claim that village-deity worship in India is a separate religion.

Blood Sacrifices

There are a number of festivals connected with the village goddesses, but they lack the regularity and steadfastness of Vedic rituals. Traditionally villagers were prompted to worship the Goddess only when in trouble, but modern-day goddess shrines have increasingly introduced scheduled regular festivals.

In case of epidemics, villagers try to propitiate their goddess by means of blood sacrifices, usually sacrificing a cock or a goat at her shrine. The often deadly disease is interpreted by villagers as having incurred the wrath of their divine Mother because of having neglected her.


Unlike the Vedic goddesses, there is not much in the way of established iconography for the Indic village goddesses. They are usually portrayed wearing a red dress, red being the colour of the goddess. The iconography of the village goddesses is mostly derived from the stories related to them.

Sitala Devi, the Northern version of the village Goddess is usually portrayed as a woman sitting on a donkey holding a broom in one hand and a winnowing fan in the other. She might be naked or wearing a red dress.

Māri is portrayed in the sitting or standing position mostly holding a trident (trisula) in one hand and a bowl (kapala) in the other. One of her hands may display a mudra, usually the abhaya mudra, to ward off fear. She might have more than two arms and might be represented in two optional ways, one displaying her pleasant nature, and the other her terrifying aspect, with fangs and a wild mane of hair.

ee also



*David Kinsley, "Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition"
*Kancha Ilaiah, "Why I am not a Hindu".
*Theodore Elmore, "Dravidian Gods in Modern Hinduism"
*H. Whitehead, "The Village Gods of South India"
*Xavier Romero-Frias, "The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom". Barcelona 1999.

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Sitalá — Escudo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sităla [1] — Sităla, einer von den 24 Buddhas der Dschainas, Sohn des Dridharatha u. der Nanda. Seine Farbe war gelb, sein Symbol das Zeichen Sriwatsa …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sităla [2] — Sităla, Stadt, so v.w. Chitteldroog …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sitalá — 17.033333333333 92.3 Koordinaten: 17° 2′ 0″ N, 92° 18′ 0″ W …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Śītalā — Representación de Shitala Devi, diosa de la viruela En el marco del hinduismo, Shitalá es el nombre de la diosa de la viruela. शीतला, en escritura devánagari. Śītalā, en el sistema IAST de transliteración. Contenido …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sitalá — Infobox Settlement name = Sitalá settlement type =Municipality other name = native name = nickname = motto = imagesize = 300px image caption = flag size = image seal size = image shield = shield size = image blank emblem = blank emblem type =… …   Wikipedia

  • Sitala — Admin ASC 2 Code Orig. name Sitalá Country and Admin Code MX.05.082 MX …   World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II

  • ṡītala — शीतल …   Indonesian dictionary

  • ṡītalā — शीतला …   Indonesian dictionary

  • ṡītala-tā — शीतलता …   Indonesian dictionary

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