Shitala Hindu Goddess Of Disease  

Posted by Stella Clark

Shitala Hindu Goddess Of Disease Image
"SHITALA" (SHE WHO MAKES COLD) IS THE HINDU GODDESS OF DISEASE, A PESTILENCE DEITY BUT ALSO AN IMPORTANT HEALING FORCE IN THE HINDU PANTHEON. SHITALA IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR HINDU DEITIES WHOSE ORIGIN CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE DAYS OF NATURE WORSHIP. SYMBOLICALLY, SHE REPRESENTS THE POWER OF VIRUSES WHICH CAUSE DISEASE AND THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE. SHE HAS A STRANGE APPEARANCE, BUT DOES NOT APPEAR AS TERRIBLE AND FRIGHTENING AS HAS KALI IN SOME OF HER MANIFESTATIONS.

SHE IS USUALLY DEPICTED AS BLACK AND DARK LIKE KALI, WEARING A RED DRESS WHO IS GENERALLY SEEN RIDING THROUGH THE VILLAGE ON A DONKEY. SHE CARRIES A SILVER BROOM, WINNOW FAN, SMALL BOWL, AND A PITCHER OF HOLY WATER FROM THE RIVER GANGE. SHITALA IS A HOT AND DANGEROUS GODDESS WHO, IT IS SAID, CREATED THE DREADFUL DISEASE OF SMALLPOX AND THAT ONLY SHE HAS THE POWER TO CURE THOSE WHO ARE SICK. SHE DESPISES DIRT AND FILTH SO THOSE WHO WISH FOR HER BLESSINGS NEED TO BE RITUALLY CLEANSED--THEIR BODIES AS WELL AS THEIR HOMES.

SHITALA IS ALSO THE PROTECTOR OF THE GRANARY, COMMANDER OF THE WINDS, AND GIVER OF AMPLE RAIN, GOOD CROPS, AND ABUNDANT FOOD. AT THE TIME OF THE MONSOON, THE VILLAGERS GATHER AROUND HER TEMPLE, AND WHILE THE WOMEN COOK FOOD, THE MEN SING HYMNS IN SHITALA'S PRAISE IN THE HOPES THAT SHE WILL BLESS THEM WITH A BOUNTIFUL CROP.

SHITALA HAS THOUSANDS OF SHRINES THROUGHOUT INDIA, MANY OF WHICH ARE THE SITES OF LONG AND FESTIVE FAIRS. IN FACT, THERE IS HARDLY A VILLAGE IN THE COUNTRY WITHOUT ONE. IT IS COMMONLY BELIEVED IN THE VILLAGES THAT DURING THE DARKNESS OF NIGHT, SHE EMERGES FROM HER TEMPLE AND ROAMS ABOUT LOOKING FOR HER PREYS. WITH THIS IN MIND, THE VILLAGERS, IN PARTICULAR THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN, AVOID GOING CLOSE TO HER TEMPLE DURING THE NIGHT.

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Goddess Mahuika  

Posted by Stella Clark

Goddess Mahuika Image
"MAHUIKA" IS THE MAORI MOTHER OF THE FIRE. SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME, HUMANS HAD OBTAINED FIRE DIRECTLY FROM HER AND HAD KEPT THEIR CAMPFIRES BURNING SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TO GO TO THE UNDERWORLD AND ENCOUNTER "MAHUIKA" AGAIN. SHE IS ASSOCIATED WITH CAVES AND IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FOREST FIRES. IN MOST LEGENDS SHE WAS THE GRANDMOTHER OF MAUI. IN SOME VERSIONS, SHE IS THE YOUNGER SISTER OF "HINENUITEPO," THE GODDESS OF DEATH. SHE MARRIED AUAHI-TUROA, A COMET WHO CARRIED WITH HIM THE SEED OF FIRE, AND TOGETHER THEY HAD FIVE CHILDREN WHO, LIVING IN HER FINGERS ARE SAID TO BE THE FIRST RAYS OF LIGHT THAT SHOOT OVER THE SKY AT DAWN.

According to Maori legend, there came a time when fire was almost lost to the world. It seems that "Maui," always the practical joker, decided to extinguish all the fires on earth; his mother then directed the servants to go and ask "Mahuika" to give them fire to cook with. However, the servants were all terrified and refused to obey her, so "Maui" offered to go himself. His parents warned him against playing any tricks on "Mahuika", and he promised to be careful.

BUT UPON REACHING HER ABODE AND OBTAINING WHAT HE ASKED FOR, HE DECIDED TO PLAY A TRICK ON HER BY EXTINGUISHING THE FIRE ONCE HE WAS OUT OF SIGN AND THEN HE PRESENTING HIMSELF AGAIN. "Mahuika" held out her hands. She then plucked the nail of her little finger and handed it to "Maui". And, each time She tore off a nail, "MAU"I EXTINGUISHED THE FIRE AND ASKED FOR MORE. THEN "MAHUIKA" BECAME ANGRY AND THREW THE LAST FINGER NAIL ON THE GROUND. FIRE POURED OUT AND LAID HOLD OF EVERYTHING.

"MAUI "MANAGED TO ESCAPE BY CHANGING HIMSELF INTO A HAWK, BUT BY NOW BOTH THE EARTH AND SEA HAD CAUGHT FIRE. IT IS NOW THAT THE "GOD OF STORMS "STEPS UP AND EXTINGUISHES THE FIRE, BUT BEFORE FIRE WAS LOST ALTOGETHER, "MANUIKA "SAVED SOME SPARKS AND THREW INTO THE "KAIKOMAKO" AND A FEW OTHER TREES...WHERE THEY ARE STILL CHERISHED. HENCE, TO THIS DAY, MEN RUB PORTIONS OF THE WOOD OF THESE TREES TOGETHER WHEN THEY WISH TO IGNITE A FIRE.

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