Chhath Puja is the most prominent festival which is celebrated in the North Indian state of Bihar and certain regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Chhath is a famous festival which starts on the 6th day of the Hindu calendar month “Kartika”. This festival is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha. This festival is celebrated to thank god for supporting life on earth and to seek the blessing of divine Sun god and his wife. According to Hindu religion, it is believed that sun heal several health conditions and offers longevity, progress, positivity, prosperity and well being. Moreover, the main day of Chhath is actually not the first but the third day of Chhath Puja.
This festival is celebrated by people following rigorous routine which lasts for four days, the rituals and traditions of this festival includes fasting , offering prayers to the rising and setting sun, holy bathing and meditation while standing in the water. It is one of the famous Indian festivals which are celebrated in Bihar and many other destinations of India including Jharkhand, eastern UP, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Chhattisgarh and regions of Nepal. It is celebrated at the sixth of the month of Karthika in the Vikram Samvat. Chhath Puja is also celebrated in the summers after Holi but the Chhath which is celebrated in Kathika month has more importance and is ardently followed by people. However, people living away from their hometowns travel in large number during this festival
History of Chhath Puja
Chhath is a festival which is all about purity, devotion and offering prayer to Sun God; the exact origin of this festival is ambiguous but there are certain believes which connects to Hindu epics. Ramayana and Mahabharata are the two epics which are associated with Chhath Puja.
Chhath Puja’s Association with Ramayana
It is believed that Lord Rama is associated with the inception of Chhath Puja. It is said that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhyana then he and his wife Sita observed a fast in honor of the Sun god and broke it only with the setting sun. It is one such ritual which is subsequently evolved in Chhath Puja.
Chhath Puja’s Association with Mahabharata
Famous Mahabharata character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna usually use to offer prayer while standing in the water. However, there is another story which mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas also performed the similar puja to get their kingdom back.
Scientific Significance of Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is the best way to get your body detoxified as taking dips in water and exposing the body to sun increases the flow of solar bio electricity which improves the functionality of human body. It is also said that Chhath Puja helps to kills the harmful bacteria and prepares the body for the upcoming winter season.
Rituals Involved in Chhath Puja
Chhath is a four day festival which starts four days after the famous Indian festival Diwali, this year Chhath Puja 2019 is in October month. Below is the list of Chhath rituals which are involved in Chhath Puja.
Nahay Khay: The first days of the Chhath Puja involved devotees taking dip preferably in the River Kosi, Ganga and Karnali and then after the holy dip devotees take home the holy water to prepare the offerings. It is one of the most important rituals of Chhath Puja on the first day.
Lohanda or Kharna: The second day of Chhath Puja involved devotees fasting the whole day and the fast ends a little later after the sunset. The second important ritual of Chhath Puja involves devotees preparing offerings like kheer, bananas and rice for the family after worshiping the Sun and the Moon. After consuming the prasad one has to fast for 36 hours without water.
Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings): The third day of Chhath Puja is also observed with fast without water and the entire day involves preparing puja offerings. The offerings (prasad) later are kept in a bamboo tray. The offering includes thekua, coconut banana and other seasonal fruits. Third day’s evening rituals takes place at the banks of a river or a pond or any clean water body. All the devotees offer ‘araghya’ to the setting sun.
Bihaniya Arghya: On the last day of Chhath Puja, devotees again assemble on the bank of the River or any water body and then offer prayers and prasad to the rising Sun. After the offerings are done then the devotees break their fast by eating ginger and sugar or anything which is available locally. After all these Chhath Puja rituals this amazing festival ends.
Interesting & Unique Facts Associated with Chhath Puja
- Chhath Puja is the only Vedic Festival which is celebrated in India and Nepal.
- Chhath Puja is associated with Hindu epics involving Ramayana and Mahabharata with more than 1 character of Mahabharata associated.
- Chhath Puja is the only Hindu festival where all the rituals of the festival have some scientific reasons and all of them altogether represent a scientific process for detoxification.
- Chhath Puja are crafted in a way which involves optimum absorption of Calcium & Vitamin D into the body which is really beneficial for the women.
- Chhath Puja also helps increasing the immunity of the body.
- The four days of Chhath Puja offers great mental benefits to the devotees. Chhath Puja calms the mind of devotees and reduces the negative energy like hatred, fear and anger.
- The custom of offering prayer to the Sun god was also prevalent in the Babylonian civilization and ancient Egyptian civilization.