• Gujarat University students has carried out a survey in Ahmedabad
     August 9th, 2012     Kunal     Posted in Education In Gujarat, Gujarat in News

    A group of Gujarat University students has carried out a survey to determine how many of their peers understand the significance of rituals and festivals in the state.

    The surveyors focused on the age-old religious festival of Sitala Satam, which is usually celebrated in Gujarat a day before Janmasthami. This year, the festival falls on Thursday. On this day, food cooked on the previous is consumed and no activity takes place in the kitchen.

    According to surveyors, Sitala Mata was worshipped to seek her protection against the deadly smallpox. “She is often referred to as ‘The Cool One’,” said one of the surveyors. “And when properly worshipped, she is kind and forgiving. But when ignored, she is infamous as the harbinger of smallpox.”

    Gaurang Jani, a professor of sociology department and sociologist, said that the survey revealed that not many students were aware of the rituals and traditions behind celebrating the Sitala Satam Festival. He said schools and colleges must educate students about festivals and traditions, and stories associated with them.

    Responses of more than 900 students questioned by 70 surveyors from GU’s sociology department turned out to be revealing. The aim of the survey, according to Jani, was to ascertain the cultural and scientific understanding of students about festivals.

    “About 110 students of the 900 surveyed did not know what Sitala Satam was,” said another surveyor. “For some, it was a day to be blessed with a baby boy, while for others it was a day when stove should not be turned on as Sitala Mata might get burnt. Only 12 per cent know what Sitala Satam was and what it stood for.”

    As for smallpox, only 300 students knew that it was indeed a disease. According to official data provided by the government, there has been no case of smallpox in the state and India since 1980.