It’s time to wake up early in the morning because it is the auspicious festival of Chhath Puja. From fasting to singing various puja mantras, it’s a unique festival with celebrations not as loud as Diwali!! It’s one of the most prominent festivals in the Eastern states of India like Bihar, eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Nepal. Did you know that Chhath Puja is the only Vedic festival celebrated in India?!
Also known as Chhath or Surya Shashthi, the first day marks the sixth day of the Hindu calendar month, Kartik. Devotees worship the Sun God, Surya, and his wife, Usha, thanking them for supporting life on Earth and seeking his blessings. Along with a fast for 36 hours, people worship the Chhath Mayya, Lord Surya’s sister. Like every festival, Chhath also has a rich history to it with links to Ramayana and Mahabharata.
- Chhath Puja’s main legend link to King Priyamvat. He was sad since he had no children. After consulting a Guru, he performed a ‘yajna’. Soon, his wife Malini gave birth to a boy but, the baby was born dead. After a prayer to Mata Shashti by the king, she made an appearance. Shashti Devi is the daughter of Lord Brahma and protects all children. Hearing their cries, Shashti Devi brought back the lifeless child.
- According to folklore, when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya, he and his wife, Sita, observed a fast in honor of the Sun God and broke the fast at sunset. This practice later spread amongst the cultures.
- In Mahabharata, Karna was the son of Lord Surya and Kunti. He stood in the water and offered prayers to the Sun. But, there’s also another story where the Pandavas and Draupadi perform a similar puja to get their Kingdom back.
Culturally, people celebrate Chhath Puja twice a year-
- Chaitra Chhath- Also known as Chaiti Chhath, it’s celebrated in the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar.
- Kartik Chhath- This is the main festival, and devotees celebrate it on a large scale in the month of Kartik.
Moreover, this folk festival lasts for four days, with each day having its significance.
- The first day of Chhath Puja is Nahaye Khaye. After bathing, people clean their house and eat the food blessed by God to remove any negative feelings.
- Rasiaav Roti is the second day where people don’t drink or eat anything. In the evening, they eat Jaggery Kheer, also called Rasiaav, with fruits and chapati.
- Devotees offer ‘Arghya’ during the Kartik Shukla Shashti on the third day, Sandhya Arghya. They decorate a bamboo basket filled with fruits, Thekua, and rice laddus and offer it to the Sun God with their families, along with milk and water. Chhathi Maiya is worshipped from a Soop filled with Prasadam. They end the night with Shashthi Devi songs and Vrat Kathas.
- On the last day, Usha Arghya, before sunrise, devotees visit a riverbank or lake to offer the Arghya to the rising Sun. With the offering, people ask for the protection of their children and happiness among the family. After worshipping, they drink some sherbet and raw milk with some prasad to break one fast. It’s also called Paran or Parana.
Furthermore, the festival’s rituals benefit not only the person but also the environment. According to some environmentalists, Chhath is an eco-friendly festival, which spreads the message of nature conservation. The festival also dissolves the barriers of the caste system, with every devotee, whether from an elite or middle class, preparing the same Prasadam. Everyone arrives at the banks of the lake or river without the differentiation of caste or creed. In Hindu culture, the worship of the Sun is of grave importance, and according to the Vedas, the Sun God is the Soul of the World. Some believe that the light of the Sun can rid our body of diseases, and with this, the Sun grants a person health, wealth, and confidence.
There are some famous temples to visit that present the authentic form of this festival. Some are-
- Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha (one of the oldest temples in India, built in the 13th century)
- Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat
- Dakshinaarka Sun Temple in Gaya, Bihar
- Sun Temple in Katarmal, Uttarakhand, and many more.
Even though people fast, there are some delicacies they eat after breaking their fast. Some are-
- Kaddu Bhaat or Nahai Khai, which consists of bottle gourd, bengal gram, and Arva Rice, is served as a Bhog to the deity.
- Kharna is on the second day, which is the eve of Pahli Arag (first Arghya). The preparation starts in the afternoon that has jaggery kheer accompanied with Dosti Puri and seasonal fruits.
Some other notable delicacies are Thekua (Jaggery or Sugar) and different types of Kheer. The food during the four days is strictly vegetarian and contains no salt, onion, or garlic.
Warm wishes to everyone who celebrates this auspicious festival of Chhath, and we hope you enjoy the day celebrating with your loved ones!!