THIS SLEEPY LITTLE village on the road from Jaipur towards Sawai Madhopur is known for its small white temple dedicated to Shitala Mata, the goddess who wards off disease, especially smallpox. A hundred steps lead up to the shrine, around which devotees gather for a gossip after propitiating the deity. Shitala Bata is much venerated in parts of rural Rajasthan where diseases are still fatal. Every year in March or April, a fair is held here, which attracts a large number of pilgrims. Food is cooked a day before Ashtami, the eighth and most auspicious day after the new moon, and offered cold to the goddess to ensure her protection.