Chhath Pooja is an age-old Hindu festival which is dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiya, who is known to be the sister of Lord Surya. This festival is unique to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and the Madhesh region of Nepal.
It’s the only festival that is dedicated to Lord Surya, who is supposed to be the source of all powers. The God of light, life force, and energy is worshipped in order to promote the well-being, development, and prosperity of human beings.
Devotees express their gratitude towards Lord Surya and perform important rituals over for a span of four days. People who observe the fast during this festival are called Vrati.
In both Nepali and Hindi languages, the word Chhath means six. And hence, this festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika. Therefore, the festival is named Chhath.
WHY CHHATH POOJA IS CELEBRATED
Chhath Pooja is celebrated in honor to worship Lord Surya, who is said to be the source of all power.
While the exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined and ambiguous, some believe its relation all the way back to Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The two legends associated with Chhath Pooja 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 Pooja. 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 the 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 pooja to win their kingdom back.
4 DAYS OF CHHATH POOJA
Chhath puja is celebrated 6 days after Diwali on sukhla paksha sasthi of Kartik month. In 2020 it falls on Friday, 20 November. Actually, the rituals of Chhath Puja are observed over a period of four days. The 4 days holy festival of Chhath starts with Nahay-Khay from Wednesday, 18 November 2020.
Chhath Pooja begins from the Nahay- Khay. After bathing in the morning, the vrati women clean the grain for the pooja material and dry it by covering it in the sun. Cleanliness is taken care of during the washing and drying of grains. After this, women take a bath once again.
From this day, not only the vrati women but also their families start taking satvik food. Kaddu Bhaat along with Channa dal is a common preparation on this day and it is cooked by using mud or bronze utensils and mango wood over a mud stove.
After worship, all the observers are eaten only once a day. After eating the food sometime mid-noon, vrati starts the waterless-fast which is broken only the next day evening while observing ‘Kharna’ the second day of Chhath Puja.
The second day of pooja is known as Kharana. On Kharana, devotees observe Vrat for a time period of almost 8 to 12 hours. On this day devotees keep fast for the whole day and break their fast in the evening after sunset after the worship of the Sun. People terminate the fast during the evening after performing Surya Puja. They offer Rasiao-kheer, puris, fruits in the puja.
The 3rd day of the pooja rituals is known as Sandhya Argya. On this day, after preparing the prasad, devotees take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and chhati Maiya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs.
USHA ARGH AND PARAN
On the last day of the this Pooja, devotees visit the riverbank before the sun rises and make offerings to the sun. It marks the end of Paran; that is breaking of the 36 hours fast. Then Prasad is shared with neighbors and relatives