India is a land of festivals. Almost throughout the year, different festivals are celebrated in various parts of the country. Each of the festivals is wrapped with some mythological stories carried forward by generations. The stories are interesting and intriguing too, related to the God and Goddesses of various religions. Recently India celebrated the auspicious Chhath Puja. The festival is celebrated mainly in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and even in the neighboring country Nepal. Chhath Puja is a four-day long festival. This year 2021, it is being celebrated from 8th Nov to 11th Nov. It essentially starts on the sixth day after Diwali (festival of lights) or on the sixth day of the month of Kartik (month as per the Hindu calendar).
The reference of Chhath Puja has been noticed in the ancient book Rig Veda. During the Puja, devotees chant few scripts or mantras from the Rig Veda while offering their prayers to the Sun God. As per Hindu mythology, the sages from the Vedic age used to worship the Sun God.
The epic Ramayana states that when Lord Rama and his wife Sita returned from their exile to Ayodhya, they observed fast for the whole day till the sunset to worship the Sun God. Also, as per the epic Mahabharata, Karna who was the child of the Sun God and Kunti, used to offer prayers to the Lord while dipping his feet in water. Even the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi, worshipped the Sun God, to get back their kingdom from the Kauravas.
Significance of the four days of Chhat Puja
Chhath Puja starts with Nahay Khay. The devotees consume foods devoid of onion and garlic; considered holy and pure in the religious world. The meals are called Satvic in the colloquial language. They are consumed only after taking a bath since as per beliefs one is purified after a bath. Chhath Puja is majorly performed by the women folk but in certain households, men also perform the rituals. They worship Lord Surya or the Sun God, ushering in prosperity and well-being for their family members and other acquaintances.
Lohanda and Kharna
The second day of Chhath Puja is known as Lohanda and Kharna. On this day, the devotees prepare a special sweet dish called Kheer It is made with jaggery (Gur) and a special type of rice called Arwa Chawal. This is offered to God and consumed by the devotees. After that, they start fasting without water (Nirjala Vrat) for the next 36 hours.
Sandhya Arghya is the third day of Chhath Puja. On this day, the devotees do not consume any food and continue with their fasting without water. They worship the Sun God. As on offering to the Lord, they prepare another sweet dish called Thekua. It is made with ghee, flour and jaggery. The Puja or the worship for the Lord starts during sunset. The devotees along with their family members go to a nearby water body and offer fruits, and sweet dishes to the Lord. They also dip in the water to purify themselves. They continue with the fasting without water till the next sunrise. All the women folk preferably wear yellow-coloured sarees.
The fourth day of Chhath Puja is Usha Arghya. The devotees again go to a nearby water body during sunrise and dip their feet in water. The offering is to the rising sun and hence know asn Usha Arghya. Once completed, they break their fast and consume food prepared fresh without onion and garlic. Family members gather around in one place to celebrate the festival.
Some Interesting Facts about Chhath Puja
Both the Sun God (Lord Surya) and Chhathi Maiya (another name for Goddess Usha and a known sister to Lord Surya) are worshipped during Chhath Puja. The name of the festival is called “Chhath” popularly known as number 6 in the colloquial language. It is also known by the name Dala Chhath. The reason being the fruits and the other things for the Puja are carried inside a flat cane basket called Dala.
The devotees eat prasad during their fasting – comprising of rice, fresh fruits, dry fruits, jaggery, wheat, nuts, ghee and coconuts.
This year 2021 also Chhat Puja was celebrated with all the merriment and joy.
The Pictures are clicked by my mother.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.