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Chhath Puja, Chhathi, Chhath Parv, Dala Chhath, Dala Puja, Surya Shashthi -

Chhath (In Hindi also called Dala Chhath), is also known as ‘Suryasasthi’. It is observed after the six days of Diwali, the festival of light. It is an ancient Hindu festival and only Vedic Festival dedicated to the Hindu God, Surya (The Sun). The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends and elders. The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth. This is the only holy festival which has no involvement of any pandit (priest).

»  Meaning of the word

‘Chhath’ - the word is a Prakrit derivation from the Sanskrit sasthi, meaning sixth. The word chhath denotes the number 6 in Hindi.

»  Chhathi Maiya

It is also said that the Goddess that is worshipped during the famous Chhath Puja is known as Chhathi Maiya. Chhathi Maiya is known as Usha in the Vedas. She is believed to be the consort of Surya.

»  Places where it is observed

Chhath Puja is mostly observed in Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Terai regions of Nepal and is more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence.

»  Date

Chhath puja is performed on Kartika Shukala Shashti, which is the sixth day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu calendar. This falls typically in the month of October or November in the Gregorian calendar. It is also celebrated in the summer (March–April), on Chaitra Shashti, this event is called Chaiti Chhath.

»  Rituals

The rituals of the festival are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh to the setting and rising sun.

Chhath is the holiest Hindu festival of Bihar and extends to four days as follows:

  • Day 1:
    Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat):- The first day of the puja is known as Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat), the devotees take a dip preferably in sacred river Ganga but can perform the ritual in any nearby river or pond and bring the water from the same water body. Devotees bring the water to cook offerings (Prasad) at home. They have only one meal on this day. Devotees clean their house and surrounding on this day.
  • Day 2: Kharna -
    A whole day fast without water is observed by the devotees. The devotees end their fast after sunset after performing puja. Offerings (Prasad) are comprises of Rasiao-kheer (rice delicacy), puris (deep-fried puffs of wheat flour) or chapatti and bananas - are distributed among family, friends and visitors.
  • Day 3:
    Sandhya Arghya (Evening offering):– Devotees observe fast without consuming water. The whole day is spent in preparing puja offerings. All the offerings are kept in tray made up of bamboo. Offerings comprises of Thekua, coconut, banana and other seasonal fruits.

    The evening ritual is performed at the banks of river or pond or any clean water body. All the devotees, family, friends and visitors assemble there and the Agrahya is offered to the setting Sun. ‘Kosi’ – One of the most charming events during Chhath Puja known as ‘Kosi’ is celebrated at the courtyard of the house after evening offerings. Lightened earthen lamps (diyas) are kept beneath the covering of five sugarcane sticks or 24 sticks (as per local tradition).

    The same event also takes place at the ghats in the early morning before morning offerings (arghyas).
  • Day 4:
    Bihaniya Arghya (Morning offerings):– This is the last and final event of the auspicious puja, the devotees again with their family, friends and relatives assemble on the bank of river or pond to offer Arghyas (offerings) to the rising Sun. After performing Arghyas devotees break their fast. Ginger and Sugar are used by devotees to break their fast (as per local tradition).

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