Bhakti movement in Rajasthan: Bhakti movement in Medieval India is responsible for the many rites and rituals associated with the worship of God by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of Indian subcontinent. Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu in 12th Century. Nayanmars and Alvars played major role in Bhakti movement. It began to spread to the northduring the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic rule. The main period of Bhakti Movement in Rajasthan is early 16th Century to late 18th Century. The Islamic rulers were pressing public to convert religion from Hindu to Islam. The Bhakti movement was counter to the prevalent caste ideology which was dividing Hinduism. So, the Bhakti movement has its own importance to save Hinduism. The movement was spontaneous and the mystics had their own versions of devotional expression which play a major role in Rajasthan.
Main Characteristics of Bhakti Movement:
One chief characteristic of the Bhakti movement can be mentioned as belief in one God. A devotee could worship God by love and devotion. The second characteristic of the Bhakti movement was that there was no need to worship idols or to perform elaborate rituals for seeking his grace. The third feature on which the Bhakti saints laid stress was the equality of all castes. There was no distinction of high or low as far as the devotion to God was concerned. The fourth feature was the emphasis, which these saints laid on Hindu-Muslim unity. According to these saints all men irrespective of their religion are equal in the eyes of God. The saints preached in the language of the common people like Rajasthani, Khadi and other local language. They did not use Sanskrit, which was the language of the cultured few. These saints laid stress on purity of heart and practice of virtues like truth, honesty, kindness, and charity. Some saints regarded God as formless or Nirguna while others consider him as having different forms or Saguna. Most of Bhakti Movement saint in Rajasthan are of Saguna Bhakta. Important Bhakti Saints of Rajasthan: 1. Dadu Dayal 2. Sundar das 3. Meera Bai 4. Bhakhan 5. Wajind 6. Raghavdas 7. Lal Das 8. Charan Das 9. Movaji 10. Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti
Sheetla Mata is worshiped in whole rajasthan and most of Northern state of India. The two main place aredhanoop in Bhilwara and Sheel-ki-Doongri Jaipur. Dhanop is a little village near Bhilwara with only the Sheetla Mata Temple to boast of. But it makes for an interesting visit as it's the brightest temple around. The walls and pillars are bright red while the roof is shining white. The floor is of marble, and a checkered one at that. In the composite is a neem (Azadirachta indica) tree which looks more like a Christmas tree. This is because of the hundreds of colorful pieces of cloth which devotees have tied around its branches in the belief that it will fulfill their wishes.
Sheetla Mata Fair in honour of the goddess of small-pox is held in all village and towns on Sheetla Ashtama day. The biggest fair is held in March-April every year at Seel-Ki-Doongri, a village in Jaipur district. There is a shrine dedicated to the Mata on a hillock, locally called Doongri. The present temple is said to have been erected by Maharaja Madho Singh of Jaipur. The fair is attended by one lakh or more people.