Hindu month of Chaitra (started on 14th March),when the sun enters pisces, is devoted to Goddess Shitala( meaning Shital- Cool). In this month everyday in the morning devotees bathe the statue of the goddess with a mixture of water and milk called Kacchi Lassi. It is believed that Goddess provides true devotees/worshippers and her followers immunity against diseases especially skin related liked measles, chicken pox , small pox etc.
Shitala (Shitla) Goddess is primarily popular among the people of North India. In some traditions she is identified with an aspect of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Shitala is addressed as Mother, as a seasonal goddess (Vasant, i.e. Spring) and with honorific titles such as Thakurani, Jagrani (Queen of the World), Karunamayi (full of mercy), Mangala (The Auspicious One), Bhagavati (The Blessed One), Dayamayi (Full of Grace and Kindness). The role of Shitala in Southern parts of India is taken by the Goddess Mariamman who is worshipped not only by Indian people but also abroad in Malaysia, Indonesia and Bali.
In this month of Chaitra, people pray to the Goddess for the well being of their children. Tuesdays are very important for such prayers. On the first tuesday of the month most worshippers follow certain rituals. Sweets made of wheat flour and jaggery (Gulgulle, Atte Ka Halwa and meethi pooris etc. ) are offered to the goddess and are consumed as parsad/prashad. This festival is known as Basede .Parsad is made the previous day (i.e. Monday) and is offered cold on Tuesday. It is also a seasonal festival and most of the people start taking bath with cold water from this day instead of hot water. Big Fairs are held in the Shitala/Shitla Temples and Langar (Community food) is prepared and distributed among the worshippers.
Here is a recipe for Atte Ka Halwa (Wheat Flour Pudding) that you can prepare at home along with Panjiri and serve to family and friends or consume yourself as a prashad. Hope Goddess Shitala/ Shitla will bless you and your family with good health.