The Deification of Santoshi Ma
Santoshi Ma is a Goddess of recent origin in the Hindu religion. She was formally apotheosized in the 1960s after the establishment of five temples in North India. Hailed to be the “Goddess of Satisfaction,” and although Hindu scriptures don’t mention it, she is considered to be the daughter of Lord Ganesh.1 She is more popular amongst the women in North India and Nepal, being epitomized as a model of forgiveness, happiness, contentment, love and hope. A potent belief reigns that, fasting and praying for 16 consecutive Fridays brings forth peace and prosperity to the devotees. She is known to take on all the problems and difficulties of her devotees while simultaneously blessing them with abundance and happiness.2
She is shown as seated on a lotus, blossoming in a sea of milk which signifies, that where there is purity of heart and dedication, one will find the mother of satisfaction – the most calm, soft, pure and kind form of Goddess Durga. A popular belief is that she is a four-handed Goddess with two hands visible to her devotees and the other two with weapons, viz., a sword and trident, to annihilate the hurdles on the path of truth and goodness. Her worship provides purity and calmness. Santoshi Maa is worshipped on Fridays and the devotees’ wishes are fulfilled by keeping fast for 16 consecutive Fridays, adhering to the stringent refrain of eating sour eatables on that day.3
The Intricacies of the Popularized Santoshi Ma Vrat4
The devotee is expected to wake up early morning on 16 successive Fridays or until his/her wish is fulfilled, take a head bath, place a photo of Santoshi Ma in a clean puja area and place a small kalash (copper vessel). Santoshi Maa’s photo should be decorated with flowers, and after offering her incense, flowers and a bowl of gud and chana (jaggery and chickpeas), her puja is to be performed while lighting a diya (lamp) before the Goddess, with chants of the mantras and reading of the vrath katha (fast story). During the puja, the worshipper should proclaim the name of Ma Santoshi a few times loudly and with full devotion. A small amount of gur and chana should be held in the hand during the reading of the vrat katha and then the same should be fed to the cows or gau mata. Further, a small amount of gur and chana has to be kept on top of the kalash while starting the katha and later offered to Santoshi Ma as prasad. Thereafter, the gur and chana prasad should be shared among the devotees and it should be taken care to ensure that all the people present receive a portion of the prasad. After this, water from a vessel should be sprinkled throughout the house. The sacred water brings peace and calm into the house.
During the day only one meal should be taken without any bitter or sour food. When the wish is granted, the devotee must then organize a Udyapan ceremony, viz., bringing to conclusion, with eight boys being served a festive meal avoiding any bitter or sour food. Strictly, cash is not to be given to the eight boys as it might be used to buy anything sour which is forbidden. Further, the devotees should also follow strictures like avoiding quarrels and refrain from hurting anyone. This vrata teaches the devotee to spread happiness and love.
The prasad of Santoshi Ma has great significance, as it reminds us that luxury dishes are unnecessary and the desire for luxury and grandeur is unhealthy. The puja of Santoshi Ma gives the devotees an opportunity to utilize ordinary items of daily use like gur and chana instead of expensive luxuries and pomp and show.
The strong belief among the devotees is that when they have observed the rites and rituals of the puja with devotion, true love and great discipline their wishes are bound to be fulfilled.
Legend of the Ritual Fast or Vrath Katha of Santoshi Mata5
An old woman had seven sons of whom six were hard working and the youngest son was lazy and irresponsible. He was served the leftovers of his brother’s meals as his daily meal. The wife of the youngest son got to know of this and informed the fact to her husband who left the house to seek his fortune. In the process of becoming wealthy, he forgot about his wife who was continuously tormented by her in-laws. She came to know of the 16 week Santoshi Ma Vrata which was to be performed on sixteen consecutive Fridays and performed it. This resulted in Santoshi Maa appearing in her husband’s dream and apprising him of his wife’s plight. He then returned home and lived separately with his wife. But in the Udyapan ceremony of the vrata, the in-laws plotted against his wife and served sour food to eight boys in violation of the strict rule that no sour food was to be offered and this offended Santoshi Maa which resulted in her husband being arrested.
The wife then re-performed the vrata and the Udayapan ceremony, and her husband was miraculously released from prison and she was blessed with a son. The Goddess Santoshi Ma visited the family in a terrific form which resulted in her in-laws fleeing away while the wife recognized the Goddess and worshipped her. The in-laws later on asked forgiveness of the Goddess and the whole family was blessed by the Goddess Santoshi Ma.
Temples where the Principal Deity is Santoshi Ma6
North India : Harinagar, Delhi
South India : Jai Nagar, Trichy, Tamil Nadu
East India : Chakradharpur (Jharkhand)
West India : Lall Sagar, Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
Santoshi Ma worship became hugely popular and reached iconic status with the release of a low-budget Hindi film Jai Santoshi Ma in 1975, which became a raging hit and ran for months in many part of the country! The story was based on the folk tale of a vrat katha.
- source : imdb.com/title/tt0073191
By – Maheenath Ananda