Ghats have been spruced up, roads wiped clean and all arrangements are in place as people, mainly from the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are all set to observe their most important festival of the year today.
Celebrated on the sixth day after Diwali, Chhath is an ancient festival dedicated to the Sun God for a period of four days and is observed to worship the Sun god and seek his blessings for the overall prosperity of the family. A prominent festival for the North Indian state of Bihar and certain regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal, Chhath Puja rituals start on the sixth day of Hindu calendar month, Kartika.
The fervor around the Puja is marked by offering prayers to the Sun god, fasting and taking dips into the holy waters of Ganga (however, with time people have evolved and become less rigid about this rule).
The grandest festival for those who observe it, Chhath Puja is also a stringent one that encourages frugality and abstinence from food and water.
Here’s everything you need to know about the legend, significance and rituals around Chhath Puja.
While the exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined and ambiguous, some believe it dates all the way back to Hindu epics,
Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two legends associated with Chhath Puja are as follows:
Said to be a descendant of the Sun god, some say Lord Rama has a lot to do with the inception of Chhath Puja. On returning to Ayodhya after the exile, Lord Rama and Sita observed a fast in honor of the Sun god and broke it only at the break of dawn next day, a ritual that subsequently evolved into the Chhath Puja.
Prominent mythological character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna religiously offered his prayers while standing in the water and distributed Prasad among the needy. Yet another story mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas performed a similar Puja to win their kingdom back.
Some say Chhath Puja also has roots in science as it helps the human body get rid of toxicity. Taking dips in water and exposing oneself to the Sun increases the flow of solar bio-electricity that improves the overall functionality of the human body. Some also believe that Chhath Puja helps eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from the body, thus preparing one for the onset of the winter season.
Rituals | Day 1: Naha Kha/ Nahaye Khaye
On the first day, this is called ‘nahan khan’ or ‘Nahaye khai’, the worshippers take a dip in a river or a pond in the morning and carry home water from the same water. The water is used to prepare Prasad (offerings) for the Sun God. The main constituent of the offerings are Thekua, which is a wheat based cake. Offerings are preferably cooked on earthen Chulha (oven). During the offerings, offerings are contained in small, semicircular pans woven out of bamboo strips called soop. The house and its surroundings are then cleaned. These worshippers have only one meal on this day.
Day 2: Kharna
Day Two is ‘Kharna’, when the women observe a fast for the whole day, ending it only after sunset, After which a combination of jaggery-laden kheer and purees is offered to the gods and distributed among those who’d observed the fast.
And then begins another 36-hour tough fast during which they are not even allowed a sip of water.
Day 3: Pehla Arghya
The toughest and third day of Chhath has devotees–mostly women–observe a rigid fast where they neither consume water nor food.
Dedicated to Sun god’s consort, Chhathi Maiya this day is marked with folk songs and taking dips in the holy waters of Ganga, Kosi and Karnali–that go on till the sun sets. The entire household, along with friends and acquaintances, accompany the women to the riverbank or pond as they offer ‘sandhya Arghya’ (evening offerings) to the setting sun, with others singing folk songs meant for the occasion.
Day 4: Doosra Arghya/ Paaran
On the fourth day, devotees gather around the same river or pond and offer ‘Usha Arghya’ (morning offerings) to the rising sun.
It is only after this Puja that the worshippers break their fast. The Prasad is then distributed among family members and friends.
The Prasad mainly consists of fruits and sweets. All households observing the rituals make this special sweet, Thekua, which is offered as Prasad.
The most Interesting Part, is the folk song, which Women sings while worshiping the god, to listen to it, hit the link below
So, the festival is observed with the faith that the Sun God fulfills wishes if ‘Arghya’ is offered with complete dedication and devotion.
It is a festival connected with purity, devotion to the Sun God who is considered as the source of life on this earth and is regarded as the deity who fulfills all our wishes. The festival is with an aim to express thanks to Sun God for offering energy to earth continuously enabling the environment suitable for the people to live.