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Santoshi Mata

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Santoshi Mata

Santoshi Mata
Goddess of satisfaction
Devanagari संतोषी माता
Affiliation Devi
Abode Ganeshloka
Mantra Om shri santoshi mahamaye gajanandam dayini shukravar priye devi narayani namostute
Weapon Sword, golden pot of rice and Trishula (trident)
Mount Tiger or Lion or lotus

Santoshi Mata (Hindi: संतोषी माता) or Santoshi Maa (संतोषी माँ) is a relatively new goddess in the Hindu pantheon. She is venerated as "the Mother of Satisfaction",[1] the meaning of her name. Santoshi Mata is particularly worshipped by women of North India and Nepal. A vrata (ritual fast) called the Santoshi Maa vrata performed by women on 16 consecutive Fridays wins the goddess' favour.

Santoshi Mata emerged as the goddess in the early 1960s. Her cult initially spread through word of mouth, vrata-pamphlet literature, and poster art. Her vrata was gaining popularity with North Indian women. However, it was the 1975 Bollywood film Jai Santoshi Maa ("Hail to Santoshi Maa")—narrating the story of the goddess and her ardent devotee Satyavati—which propelled this then little-known "new" goddess to the heights of devotional fervour. With the rising popularity of the film, Santoshi Mata entered the pan-Indian Hindu pantheon and her images and shrines were incorporated in Hindu temples. The film portrayed the goddess to be the daughter of the popular Hindu god Ganesha and related her to the Raksha Bandhan festival, however, it had no basis in Hindu scriptures.


  • Historical development 1
  • Vrata 2
  • Legends 3
    • Vrata-katha 3.1
    • Jai Santoshi Maa 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Historical development

Cover art for the DVD release of the 1775 film "Jai Santoshi Ma", the extraordinary popularity of which elevated previously unknown deity, Santoshi Mata to the pan-Indian Hindu pantheon. The scene shows Santoshi Mata (left) in a red sari and holding a trident and her devotee Satyavati.

The 1975 film vrata (ritual fast) and engaged in her worship. The success of this low-budget film and media reports of the "sudden emergence of a modern celluloid goddess" resulted in scholarly interest in Santoshi Mata.[3]

Art historian Michael Brand suggested Santoshi Mata emerged in the early 1960s with the establishment of five widely spread temples in North India. Her iconography also was crystallized in this period and slowly spread through poster art. Her cult spread among women through word of mouth, pamphlet literature, and poster art.[3] According to Brand and Professor John Stratton Hawley of the Barnard College (Department of Religion), it was the wife of Vijay Sharma, the director of Jai Santoshi Maa, who urged her husband to "spread the goddess's message".[3][4]

Hawley notes: "As her film brought her to life, Santoshi Ma quickly became one of the most important and widely worshiped goddesses in India, taking her place in poster-art form in the altar rooms of millions of Hindu homes. [...] Yet it is hard to conceive that Santoshi Ma could have granted such instant satisfaction to so many people had she not been part of a larger and already well-integrated culture of the Goddess. Her new devotees could immediately recognize many of her characteristic moods and attributes, and feel them deeply, because she shared them with other goddesses long since familiar to them."[4] Hawley stresses that Santoshi Mata's iconography took elements from the familiar form of the Hindu goddesses. Santoshi Mata's characteristic posture standing or sitting on a lotus mirrored that of the goddess Lakshmi (Shri). The weapons she held—the sword and the trident—are traditional attributes of the goddess Durga.[4] According to sociologist Veena Das, the story of Santoshi Mata and Satyavati from Jai Santoshi Maa borrows from older Hindu legends like those of sati Anusuya, who humbled the pride of the jealous goddess triad and of an ardent devotee—of the goddess Manasa—who has to face opposition from her family and other goddesses to worship her patron Manasa.[5]

Brand, Das, Professor Kathleen Erndl of the Florida State University (Department of Religion) and Stanley Kurtz who authored the book "All the Mothers are One" considered that there was nothing "new" about Santoshi Mata, rather she was just another model of the prototype Hindu Divine Mother.[3][6] Erndl identified Santoshi Mata with the lion-riding goddess, Sheranvali.[3]

Hawley notes that although a temple dedicated to Santoshi Mata existed in Jodhpur before the release of the Jai Santoshi Maa, before 1967, the same temple was dedicated to a goddess called Lal Sagar ki Mata—The Mother of the Lal Sagar Lake, on whose banks the temple is situated. However, Lal Sagar ki Mata unlike the vegetarian Santoshi Mata, was offered animal sacrifices.[2] With rising popularity of the film, Santoshi Mata images and shrine were incorporated in Hindu temples and in some cases, Santoshi Mata was installed as the presiding deity like in Jodhpur, deposing other goddesses from that status.[4]

According to Professor Philip Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa (Modern Indian Studies), the Santoshi Maa vrata was gaining popularity among women in North India in the 1960s, a decade before the release of Jai Santoshi Maa. He further notes that the fact that Santoshi Mata expected the inexpensive raw sugar and roasted chickpeas—associated with the "non-elite"—as offerings in her vrata and her benevolent nature made her popular with the masses.[1] However, Das considers the film was instrumental in spreading the Santoshi Mata worship to the illiterate, who until then could not have known the written vrata katha (legend related to the vrata).[5]

Even though the script of Jai Santoshi Maa has no scriptural basis, scholars Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Mata's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.[7][8]


The Santoshi Mata vrata or devotional fast is to be observed on 16 successive Fridays or until one's wish is fulfilled. The devotee should perform a [1]

In this type of worship, the devotee has to follow other strictures such as avoiding quarrels and hurting anyone. By means of this vrata one can live with harmony because the bad habits in human life like to ignore faith and to say false, to behave arogantly can be removed. This vrata teaches the devotee to spread love, sympathy and happiness.



Unlike other Indian mythological films which were based on the interior kind of folktales: those generally told by women within domestic space." The vrata katha also does not associate the goddess with Ganesha—the god of obstacle removal and beginnings, who is described as her father in the film and other devotee literature.[1]

Jai Santoshi Maa

Ganesha with consorts Riddhi and Siddhi, who are portrayed as Santoshi Mata's parents in the film Jai Santoshi Maa. However, this claim has no basis in the ancient Hindu scriptures.[1]

The film Jai Santoshi Maa links the birth of Santoshi Mata to the festival of Raksha Bandhan, where a sister ties a rakhi string bracelet on her brother's wrist and the brother gifts his sister sweets, gifts and a promise of protection. When Ganesha's sister Manasa celebrates the festival with him, his sons ask Ganesha to grant them a sister. Although Ganesha initially refuses, upon the repeated pleas of his two wives Riddhi and Siddhi, sons, sister and the divine sage Narada, Ganesha creates Santoshi Mata through two flames rising from his wives' breasts. Narada decreed that this mind-born daughter of Ganesha will always fulfil everyone’s desires and thus, would be called Santoshi Maa, the Mother of Satisfaction.[1][5]

The film then shifts from the heavenly abode of Ganesha to the earth, where the story of the goddess's devotee Satyavati is told. Satyavati, prays to the goddess, to get her married to Birju and after her wish is granted, she undertakes a pilgrimage of the temples of Santoshi Mata with her husband. The mischievous Narada incites the jealousy of the goddesses

  • Vrat Vidhi, Vrat Katha, Aartis, Bhajans, Chalisa, 108 Names, Movies, Photos & Temples of Santoshi Maa

External links

  • Hawley, John Stratton (1998). "The Goddess in India: One Goddess and Many, New and Old". In John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff. Devī: goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.  
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lutgendorf, Philip (July–Aug 2002). "A 'Made to Satisfaction Goddess': Jai Santoshi Maa Revisited (Part Two)" (PDF).  
  2. ^ a b Hawley p. 3
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lutgendorf, Philip (July–Aug 2002). "A Superhit Goddess: Jai Santoshi Maa and Caste Hierarchy in Indian Films (Part I)" (PDF).  
  4. ^ a b c d Hawley p. 4
  5. ^ a b c d Das, Veena (Nov–Dec 1988). "Shakti Versus Sati —A Reading of The Santoshi Ma Cult" (PDF).  
  6. ^ Hawley p. 6
  7. ^ For discussion of the depiction of Ganesha in the film see: Cohen, Lawrence, "The Wives of Gaṇeśa", in: Brown, Robert (1991). Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God. Albany: State University of New York. p. 130.  .
  8. ^ Thapan, Anita Raina (1997). Understanding Gaņapati: Insights into the Dynamics of a Cult. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. pp. 15–16, 230, 239, 242, 251.  



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