Sambalpur, June 16: The marriage of the divine couple Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati was solemnised here in the wee hours of Wednesday in a low-key manner, for the second consecutive year in the history of the famous Sital Sasthi festival due to the second wave of Covid-19. The marriage was performed without pomp and gaiety in the presence of the least number of persons.
Normally, thousands of people congregate here in the city during the divine marriage. The entire festival is conceived as a real marriage of a man with a woman from two different families and two married couples of the city playing the role of parents of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati respectively. Like other marriages, Lord Shiva goes to the abode of Goddess Parvati in baarat procession with artists performing on the road. And the divine couple moves round the city, which is called Nagar Parikrama, following the marriage on the next day. Thousands of the artists perform on the roads of the city during the Nagar Parikrama. Lakhs of people from across the state besides neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand congregate here to witness the colourful carnival, which is also known as the homecoming procession of the divine couple. However, the city is not going to witness such jubilation during Nagar Parikrama this year also.
Member of Nandapada Sital Sasthi Jatra Committee, Biraj Kumar Mishra said, like last year, there was no baraat procession this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati was solemnised in the temple premises in the presence of very few people including the parents of Lord Shiva and parents of Goddess Parvati besides some eminent persons of the locality, he said.
Writer of ‘Sambalpur Itihas’, Deepak Panda said, the Sital Sasthi festival first began in the year 1678 in Sambalpur and the divine marriage was being held at Somnath Baba temple at Balibandha here only. Subsequently, the divine marriage was performed in Balunkeswar Baba temple of Nandapada here in 1782 and since then, the people of Sambalpur have been celebrating the festival with much fanfare. In due course the marriage of Loknath Baba of Jaruapada was also solemnised and the temple of Jageswar Baba of Mudipada joined the celebrations in 1978. This apart, the divine marriage is also organised for Koshaleswar Baba of Budharaja, Gupteswar Baba of Thakurpada and Sitaleswar Baba of Badbazar in the city. However, this is the second time the festival is being celebrated in such a low-key manner due to the Covid-19 crisis, he added.