On Wednesday, a group of around 20-25 Hindu women in Mathura was stopped by the members of the Muslim community from performing the Hindu rituals of Basauda Pujan. The women had gathered at the water well near the Idgah mosque to worship the Goddess Sheetala Mata. Clashes broke out between the two communities as Muslims accused the Hindu women of unnecessarily crowding the area around the mosque.
According to the reports, the Hindu women had arrived at the water well near the Idgah mosque at around 5 am to worship Sheetala Mata on the occasion of the Basauda Pujan. They were stopped by the members of the Muslim community, who did not allow them to carry out the Hindu ritual. The Govindnagar Police then reached the spot and tried to pacify the matter.
The Police explained to the Muslim community about the ritual and asked them to maintain peace, but to no avail. As the situation frazzled, the Govindnagar Police informed the Provincial Armed Constabulary who advanced to cool the matter down. The women worshipped Sheetala Mata and accomplished Basauda Pujan in presence of the Police officers.
Reports mention that the Hindu women have been visiting the water well and the Sheetala Mata temple near the Idgah mosque for Basauda Pujan for the past many years. Several other Hindu rituals are also performed at the well. The Muslims however kept on arguing that no such Pujan had happened at the spot earlier and that the Hindu women had crowded the area around the mosque. Circle officer Abhishek Tiwari meanwhile stated that the Basauda Pujan is a part of local tradition and the rituals should be allowed to happen. The locals also perform ‘mundans’ for their children in the area, as per the Amar Ujala report.
Stale food is offered to the Sheetala Mata on Basauda Pujan-
Basauda Pujan is a part of the Hindu tradition that is celebrated in many states as a symbol of ‘change of the season’. Hindus worship Sheetala Mata and pray for the well-being of their family and especially the small children. Sheetala Mata is considered the deity who grants wellness from diseases like chickenpox and skin ailments. The most amusing fact about the Basauda Pujan is that the deity Sheetala Mata is offered stale food and the same is consumed by devotees as ‘prasad’. The women cook delicious food offerings for the deity one day before the Pujan and keep it aside to make it stale.
Interestingly, it is believed in many parts of India that on the day of Basouda Pujan, Hindu devotees must stay away from the heat and hot substances. They should consume stale cold meals, cold beverages like curd milk, or ‘raab’ (traditional beverage made using curd, bajra flour, and cumin seeds). They must use cold water, also for domestic purposes. However, they can return to their daily ‘warm meal’ routine only after 24 hours of the Pujan.
Basauda Pujan is also called as ‘Sheetala Saptami’ or ‘Sheetala Ashtami’ and is celebrated every year around the Ashtami date of the Krishna Paksha of Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar.