New Delhi: Chhath is the festival celebrated each year by the people in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with much fanfare.
This is very antique festival of the Hindu religion, which is dedicated to the God of energy, also known as Surya or Surya Shashti.
People celebrate this festival to offer thanks to the Lord Surya for blessing the life on the earth as ever.
People worship the God Sun very enthusiastically and pray for the well-being, success and progress of their family members, friends, and elders.
According to the Hinduism, Sun worship is related to the cure of a range of diseases.
History and Origin of Chhath Puja
Chhath puja has the great significance in the Hindu religion and it is assumed that the oldest Purohits were requested by the kings to come and perform the traditional puja of the Lord Sun.
They chant the ancient Rigveda texts and a variety of hymns for worshiping the Sun. In the ancient Chhath puja were celebrated by Draupadi and the Pandavas of Hastinapur (New Delhi) for solving their instant problem and regaining their lost kingdom.
It is assumed that the Chhath puja was first started by the Surya Putra Karna. He was a great warrior and had ruled over the Anga Desh (Munger district of Bihar) during the Mahabharata period.
Worship of Chhathi Maiya (consort of the Lord Surya) is held at Chhath puja, Chhathi Maiya is also known as the Usha in the Vedas. Usha means dawn (the first light of the day). People pray to Chhathi Maiya to overcome their troubles as well as to get the Moksha or liberation.
Another history behind celebrating the Chhath puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that Lord Rama and Mata Sita had kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartik in Shukla Paksh during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
From that time, chhath puja became the significant and traditional festival in the Hindu religion and started celebrating every year at the same date.
Rituals and Traditions of Chhath Puja
It is believed that worshiper of the Chhath take holy bath and follows a period of abstinence and become separate for 4 days from the main family. Throughout the period he is believed as the pure spirit and sleep on the floor having single blanket.
There is a normal belief that once a family begins Chhatt Puja, it has to perform it yearly as well as pass it to his next generations and it can only be skipped when there is a death of any person in the family that year.
Devotees offer prasad to Sun and mostly they are sweets, Kheer, Thekua and fruits included in a small bamboo tokari. The prasad should be cooked without salt, onions or garlic with maintained purity. It is a four days festival which includes:
On the first day devotees take bathe early in the morning in the holy water of Ganga and bring some water to their home to prepare the offerings.
The home and its surroundings should be cleaned at this day. They only take food made of ghee without onion and ginger-garlic.
On the second day (the day before Chhath) Panchami, devotees fast for whole day and break their fast in the evening after sunset after the worship of earth.
They offer Rasiao-kheer, puris, fruits in the puja. After taking meal in the evening, they go on a fast without water for the next 36 hours.
On the third day (day of Chhath) they offer the Sanjhiya Arghya at the ghat of riverbank. After Arghya, they wear the saree of turmeric color. Other family members wait to get the blessings from worshipper.
On the early morning of the fourth day (Paarun), devotees along with their family and friends offer Bihaniya Aragh at the riverbank.
Devotees end their festival through breaking the fast by having the Chhath prashad.
Significance of Chhath Puja
Chhath puja has a special significance during the sunrise and sunset periods. The sunrise and sunset are the most important periods of the day during, when a human body can safely get the solar energy without any harm.
That's why there is a myth of offering the Sanjhiya Arghya and Bihaniya Arghya to the Sun on Chhath festival. During this period the solar energy has low level of ultraviolet radiations so it is safe for the human body.
People perform the Chhath puja in order to thank the Lord Sun for continuing the life on the earth as well as to get blessings.
The ritual of Chhath puja provides the mental calmness (by detoxifying the body and mind), enhances the energy level and immunity, reduces the frequency of anger, jealous as well as lot of negative emotions.
It is also believed that following the Chhath processes helps in slowing down the ageing process. Such beliefs and rituals of the Chhath make it the most significant festival in the Hinduism.