Chhathpuja

Here’s everything you need to know about Chhath Puja

Soon, a swarm of devotees will swamp the ghats of several rivers, ponds, lakes to extend their prayers to the Sun God and celebrate the festival of Chhath Puja.  The festival is celebrated on a grand level by people of different cultures in India. On that note, here’s everything you need to know about Chhath Puja so that you understand the significance and beauty of the festival.

Primarily celebrated in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhesh region of Nepal, Chhath Puja is an ancient Vedic festival. It is celebrated to honor the solar deity, Surya and his sister Shasthi Devi (Chhathi Maiya).It is believed that Surya along with his wives, Usha and Pratyusha, the Vedic goddesses of Dawn and Dusk, are the source of all power and the binding force of the universe.

ChhathPuja

History

Though its origin remains ambiguous, we find its traces in Ramayana and Mahabharata. According to a legend, in ancient times, Draupadi and the Pandavas used to celebrate Chhath Puja as a ritual to regain their lost kingdom. It is also believed that the son of Lord Surya and Kunti, Karna, was the first to perform Chhath Puja. Yet another legend dictates that on returning to Ayodhya after their exile, Lord Rama and Sita, in honour of the Sun God, observed a fast. This fast was broken at the break of dawn the next day. This ritual gradually evolved into Chhath Puja.

Significance

The tradition of fasting is backed by Yogic philosophies which believe that there will be an increase in the absorption of energy required for life from the Sun if your body will be exposed to solar radiation of a particular wavelength under certain physical and mental conditions. This in turn will lead to detoxification of your body providing a peaceful mind and body. So, the Vratis refrain from eating and drinking during this time. It is also believed that taking a dip in the water while standing under the rays of the Sun during dawn and dusk purifies the body of harmful bacteria and viruses and prepares it for the coming winter.

Also read: Places to visit during Chhath Puja

The Stages of the festivities

Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day in the month of Kartika. The devotees offer special prayers to express their gratitude to Lord Surya for blessing the Earth with his gracious rays. The puja is observed through a four-day long celebration filled with many rituals, customs and traditions.

Day 1- The first day is known as the Nahay Khay. On this day, the house is cleaned and decorated for the puja. A special meal of chana dal, rice and kaddu ki sabji is prepared.

Day 2– The Vratis fast the entire day and break their fast only after worshipping Lord Surya at sunset. A special sweet dish made up of rice and jaggery along with puris is prepared as prasad to offer to the Sun God.The Vratis break their fast with the special prasad.

Day 3- The most important day of the festival is the third day, Sandhya Arghya ( evening offering). The Vratis along with their families gather around water bodies to take a dip in the water and offer ‘arghya’ (prayer) to the setting Sun and Pratyusha. The Vratis fast the whole day without drinking even a drop of water. At night, the ritual of Kosi Bharai takes place in which the five elements of nature are worshipped; earth, water, fire, air and space.

Day 4- Bihaniya Arghya (morning offering) is the last day of the celebration. The Vratis take a dip in the water and offer their prayer to the rising Sun and Usha. They break their long fast after consuming the prasad. 

Chhath Puja is one of the few Hindu festivals which is non-idolatry. For the Puja, a beautiful basket of bamboo sticks is made and filled with all the seasonal fruits and vegetables. The basket is painted colourful and decorated with diyas and flowers. The basket is carried by the devotees on their heads to the ghats for the ‘arghya’ puja. For the Kosi Bharai ritual, Bamboo is used to represent the five elements of nature. Special prasads, Thekua and Khasta, are prepared and distributed among the devotees.

Importance

Chhath Puja is claimed by many Environmentalists as one of the most eco-friendly religious festivals which spread the message of nature conservation. Started during the post-Vedic period, this festival transcends the rigid caste system by propagating the ideas of “equality, fraternity, unity and integrity”. Irrespective of their caste, class, colour or economy, every devotee prepares the same prasad and offers their prayer to Lord Surya from the same ghat. Also, Chhath Puja is the only festival in the entire world which celebrates and worships the setting Sun.

This festival is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and vigour. The Vratis and the devotees observe the auspicious days of Chhath Puja with a lot of admiration and respect. This year Chhath Puja will be celebrated from 8th November to 11th November. We hope this time when you witness the celebration or be a part of it you thoroughly enjoy the festivities and seek the blessings of Lord Surya for health, prosperity and happiness.

For those who want to explore different cultures, Click on the link below : Amazing things about Japanese culture

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