One of the oldest Hindu Vedic festivals is still celebrated today in the form of Chhath Puja. The celebration is to honor Lord Surya. The mother goddess “Chhathi Maiya” gives courage and support to the weak people in society. She is revered as the “Festival Goddess.” The Lord Sun is offered a specific kind of offering or praying called “arghya” in the evening of the first day and during the sunrise on the second day. Four days are dedicated to the rituals. Women keep a 36-hour fast and devote this time to Chhath Mayya and Lord Surya. The Chhath Puja is celebrated to wish children joy, abundance, and longevity.
Written by Hrithik Raj, B.Tech (CSE) 2nd Year
Since the name “Chhath” means “six” in the literal sense, the festival is celebrated six days after Deepawali. There are numerous theories regarding the origin of Chhath Puja, It is believed that when Lord Ram and Mata Sita returned to Ayodhya, on the sixth day, they kept a full day fast and worshipped Lord Surya. Another theory holds that the first Chhath Puja was performed by Karna, who is thought to be the child of Lord Surya and Kunti. Although there are many other theories regarding Chhath Puja. Today, it is widely celebrated by Biharis, people from Jharkhand, people from Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and people from Nepal. Since Biharis have settled all over the world, they have brought this custom with them, therefore it is no longer a localized celebration.
The entire festival is celebrated for four days, and each day has its own significance. Named as Nahay Khaye, Kharna, Sandhya Arag, and Usha Arag, respectively. The festival’s opening day is Nahay Khaye. Vratis start their Puja vidhi on this day. Vrati needs to bathe in holy water to purify their soul. Then they ought to prepare a meal. The Vrati typically consume Kaddu Bhaat and Chana Dal.
Kharna Puja is the second day of the Vrat and the Vratis should keep fast for the whole of the day before breaking their fast after the sunset, They make a prasad of Kheer and roti and offer it to “Chhathi Maiya”. All Vrati swear to avoid food and Water for the next 36 hours.
After making prasad on the Sandhya Arag, the Vrati should walk to the riverbank. The Puja is worshiped by all the family members and relatives. Vrati bathes in the holy river. And when the sun starts to set, people start the Arag. This puja is especially unique because of the worship of the Sunset. Worshiping the rising sun is very common in India, but worshiping the sunset makes this festival as MAHAPARV.
Usha Arag, the fourth and last day of the Mahaparv. Vrati and the people get up early in the morning. Vrati bathes in the holy river water as the sun rises. The “Sufs” and “Dallas” are then offered to the rising sun in hope of a happy life for them and their families. After prayers are over, people receive blessings from Vrati and Vrati breaks their strict 36-hour fast by eating some Prasad.
After these four days are over, there will be a new 365-day countdown to the family reunion, Maa ka hatho ka thekua, and the experience of that emotion, which is exceedingly challenging to describe.