Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival, dedicated to Lord Surya and Chhathi Maiya , Usha (wife of Surya). Chhath Puja is celebrated to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and the country of Nepal but like most festivals in not limited to any regional boundaries anymore. It is celebrated during the month of Kartik (October-November) on the sixth day after Diwali festival that is riverside rituals in which the Sun God or Surya is worshipped, giving it the name of ‘Suryasasthi. This puja is performed to express gratitude to Sun God for sustaining life on Earth and granting Health, Prosperity and Abundance.
When is Chhath Puja celebrated?
Chhath puja is a 4 day upavas or vrat observed in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik (October-November in the Gregorian Calendar), which starts on shukla chaturthi and ends on shukla saptami, with the most important day being the night of Shashti tithi of shukla paksha.
It is also celebrated in the summer (March–April), on Chaitra Shashthi, some days after Holi; this event is called Chaiti Chhath.
Stories behind celebrating Chhath Puja:
It is believed that Chhath Puja may even predate the ancient Vedas texts, as the Rigveda contains hymns worshipping the Sun God and describes similar rituals. And also, there are many references to the rituals in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
It is believed that Draupadi was an ardent devotee of Lord Surya (the Sun god). Due to her devotion toward Surya, she was gifted with the unique power to cure even the most deadliest diseases. This power & energy of Draupadi helped Pandavas to survive & win the Battle of Kurukshtera and eventually regain their lost kingdom.
Another mythological story behind celebrating Chhath Puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that Lord Rama of Ayodhya and Sitaof Mithilahad kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
According to Chhath Puja Katha, There was a king called Priyavrat who was living a Happy Life with her wife Malini. Only unhappiness in Life was they were not having a Child. Maharishi Kashyap had suggested the king to do Yagya to get blessed with a baby. His wife was blessed with a child following the ritual. But she gave birth to a dead child after nine months. King became sad and decided to commit Suicide. During this time there came a Goddess (Goddess Khasthi) ,she said if someone would offer puja to me with the pure mind he will be blessed with a child. The king Priyavrat did the same and blessed with a very beautiful child. Since then, people started celebrating the Chhath puja.
How Chhath Puja is Celebrated?
Chhath Puja is a 4-day festival that occurs on the Kartika Shukla Shashti which is the sixth day of the month of Karthika according to the Hindu calendar. Chhath Puja is celebrated to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and the country of Nepal with great enthusiasm. The fervour around the puja is marked by offering prayers to the Sun god, fasting and taking dips into the holy waters of Ganga.The main worshippers or devotees are known as Parvaitin. Parv in Sanskrit means occasion or festival and Vaiti means the observers of fast. These Parvaitins are generally women. These Parvaitins pray for the well-being, happiness, and prosperity of their family members. However,men also participate in this festival as this is not at all a gender-specific festival. Once a family starts following this festival, it is their duty to perform it every year and pass on the legacy to the upcoming generations. In case of a sad demise of any family members, the Puja is skipped for a year.
The Prasad that are offered during Chhath Puja include sweets, Kheer, Thekua, Rice Laddoo, and fruits like bananas, sugarcane, and sweet lime. The food items eaten during this Puja are purely vegetarian without onion, garlic, and salt.
Day 1: Naha Kha/ Nahaye Khaye
The 1st day of Chhath starts exactly 4 days from Diwali . On this day the people who observe fast, firstly take bath at a river or pond and then prepare lunch consisting of rice, daal or lentils mixed with pumpkin and made in pure ghee or clarified butter. These foods are cooked in mud or bronze utensils in the flame of mango wood or a mud stove. The women who fast on this day take only one meal.
Day 2: Lohanda and Kharna
The 2nd day (5th day from Diwali) is known as kharna or kheer- roti. In which the kheer(rice is prepared with sweetened milk instead of water) and chapati ( called roti). The people observe fast for the full day without taking even water and break their fast by eating this kheer-roti as dinner after offering it to the rising moon and Goddess Ganga.
Day 3: Sandhya Arghya
The 3rd day is the main festival day (exactly 6th day from Diwali) of chhath puja. The devotees maintain nirjal vrat ( Fast without even taking a drop of water ) on the this day. In the evening the devotees/vratins go to the river bank and makes an offering to the setting sun. Most devotees perform these rituals along with their friends and family members. At night, an exciting event of lighting the lamps of clay ‘diyas’ under the covering of five sugarcane sticks takes place on river banks. Diyas floating on the river look like numerous stars on the water. Thousands of devotees and tourists gather at river Ganga to witness this special ceremony.
Day 4: Prayer of Surya or Morning Offerings
On the Last day, the devotees wake up early and get ready and together go to the riverbank again before sunrise. They offers argha and surya namaskar to the rising sun. This Chhath Puja ends when the devotees break their fast called Paran. After the fast is broken, the relatives visit each other’s house to share Prasad. In this way, nearly 42 hours of strict penance comes to an end.
Some say Chhath Puja also has roots in science as it helps the human body to get rid of toxicity. Taking dips in water and exposing the body to sun increases the flow of solar bio electricity which improves all the functionality of human body. It is also said that Chhath Puja helps to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from the body and prepares the body for the upcoming winter season.
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