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.
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.
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.
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:
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