This year Shitala Ashtami is on 26th March,2011. The festival of Shitalashathami is celebrated on Chaitra Krishana Ashathami or first Monday or Thursday whichever falls first after Holi in first half of Chaitra maas. This fast has the potential to remove all kinds of fevers, yellow fever, stinking boils, all diseases of the eyes, marks of Small Pox of the devotee. Shitla Maa gets appeased with the person who keeps this fast.
In Shitla strotam, the description of Maa is given in this way-
‘VANDEHAM SHITALA DEVIM RAPTMASTHAM DIGAMBARAM
HOW TO START THE SHITALASHTHAMI FAST
Those want to keep fast of Ashathami should observe mode of Ashathami Tithi. On ashthami tithii The devotee should take bath with <span>cold water</span> and take this Sankalp—
‘MAM GEHE SHITALARO GAJNITOPDRAI PRASHAMANA POORVAKA
YURAROGYESHAVARYABHI VARDHAYE SHITALA ASHATHAMI VRAT MAHIN KARISHYE’
The speciality t of the fast is that, all the food which is offered to Shitala Maa are <span>cooked</span> on the previous day itself. Means Maa is offered one day old cooked food. That is the reason this fast is known as Basoda in the common men. Dry fruits, <span>sweets</span>, puri, dal- bhat,lapsi etc. are prepared prior to one day of the fast and no food is cooked on fast day, this is the rule.
On the day of fast, all five fingers are dip in the Ghee and make a mark on the wall of the house with this ghee soaked hand. Roli, grains of rice are put on it and songs of Shiatla mata are sung. Scent, flower etc are used for the pooja . One must chant Shitlastrotam or should listen or tell Shitala Mata story with full devotion. Deepak should be lighted in the night.
Serve bhat, chapatti, curd, sugar, pot of water, roli, rice, grains, moong dal, turmeric , dhoopbatti, moth, bajra etc. in a thali. All members of the family should touch this thali and offered it to Shitalamata Temple. This fast can be performed by offering water to the place where four roads meet(choraha), there is such rule mentioned in Purana. After that a present of moth bajra with some amount should be offered to mother – in – law after touching her feet. This ritual should be followed by feeding an old female and donate her some Dakshina.