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Shitala Mata or Sheetla Mata (or various other spellings) is the Hindu goddess of smallpox. Despite the eradication of
smallpox in the 1970s, these temples are still in active use.
The goddess of smallpox
Tonk - our first encounter
Tonk was the first temple we encountered and was in our opinion the nicest. It required some effort to find - just off a
highway. The people there thoroughly engaged us. However, no one spoke English, so we have only the faintest idea of what
was going on.
Along the rim of the cuppola was a pantheon of Hindu gods.
Udaipur - second encounter
In Udaipur, the small temple was just outside the gates of the city palace.
Bharatpur - third encounter
The temples appeared to vary greatly in appearance and practice. The small temple is Bharatpur seemed to diverge most greatly
from our expectation of a goddess on a donkey.
Varanasi was much the largest of the temples we saw, but it some ways it was the least distinctive. However it had a
wonderful location along the Ganges near the main ghat.
The Edward Jenner story
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Modified: March 11, 2013
Created: June 11, 2005