Although there are many Festivals and Fasts in our country, Chhath Puja has its own special significance. This is a festival that devotees have been celebrating with great enthusiasm since ancient times. According to mythological beliefs, this fast was kept by Kunti and Draupadi in the Mahabharata period. This fast has started in the Bihar state of India. Therefore, this festival is celebrated on a large scale here. The Chhath Puja festival celebrated from the 4th day to the 7th day of Kartik Shukla Paksha not only in Bihar but all over Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal. Migrating the population from these states to the other states has spread the essence and positive vibes of this Chhath celebration to the whole of India.
This puja is not about a single day. Rather, it’s about the preparation that takes place celebrating this beautiful festival of togetherness. Surely fasting takes place and is very important for devotes and religious people believing in it. Amazing thing notice is how all family member comes together during this time preparing for Chhath Puja. Women especially keep Chhath Puja fast. Apart from women, a large number of men also participate to keep this fast. The main purpose of keeping this fast is to ensure the attainment of children and the longevity and prosperity of the family. The 36-hours fast of the second night and 3rd day-night has very hard rules of fasting which is strictly followed by women.
Chhath Puja & Vrat
Chhath Puja is addressed to many names such as Raya Vrat, Usha Puja, Chhathi Prakriti Mai Puja, Chhath Parva, Dala Chhath, Dala Puja, and Surya Shashthi. Along with Hindus, this festival is also celebrated with great faith by Muslims and people of other religions. This fast of Chhath Puja is celebrated as a 4-day festival. In this festival, Chhath Mata is worshiped along with the Sun God. There is no special place of idol worship in Chhath Puja. But in some places, the idol of Chhath Mata is also set up. This fast has to be kept for life until someone else in the house is not ready to continue this fast.
According to folklore, Chhathi Maiya is the sister of Surya Dev. Therefore, Lord Sun is pleased by offering Arghya at this festival and fulfills the desires you have sought. Making meat, fish, and other nonveg dishes & foods at home during this fast is considered taboo. For those who follow this fast, eating onion and garlic is also forbidden. Even after the completion of Chhath Puja, making meat and fish is considered taboo as long as there is Prasad in the house.
Historical & Vedic Views
This holy festival, which falls 6 days after Diwali, is a symbol of faith and progress for the people of Hinduism. The history of this festival is very ancient, and there are many mythological stories behind this fast. According to the Puranas, King Priyamvad had no children. He fasted ‘Devi Shashthi’ (a Hindu folk goddess who is reputed as the giver and protector of children) to have a son, and after which he had a son.
According to the Ramayana, when Lord Rama and Mother Sita returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, he then worshiped Suryadev for the longevity and prosperity of the family. Apart from Ramayana and Purana, this worship is also described in the Mahabharata period. In the Mahabharata period, Kunti followed this fast and received Karan as a son and Draupadi followed this fast and as a result, the Pandavas gained their kingdom. Thus, there are many historical witnesses to commemorate this worship.
The way of Celebrating Chhath Pooja: –
1- The First Day of Chhath Puja
The first day of Chhath Puja begins with ‘Nahai Khay’ on Kartik Shukla Chaturthi. On this day, the fasting women take a holy-bath after cleaning the house. After taking bath, the women who keep the fast cook pure vegetarian food, and especially Pumpkin vegetables, mung, chana dal, rice, etc. are made in food. A ‘Mitti Ka Chulha (soil stove)’ is used to make this food. The women who keep this fast firstly eat it and then other household members. Fasting women or men do not use beds to sleep. They sleep on the ground by spreading a clean-new mat or straw.
2- The Second Day of Chhath Puja
The second day of Chhath Puja is known as ‘Kharna and Lohanda’ on the day of Kartik Shukla Panchami. On this day, people who keep fast for the whole day, make kheer with rice and jaggery and roti in the evening. After sunset, kheer and roti are eaten in solitude. The people keeping the fast after eating this Prasad and keep without water for the next 36 hours.
3- The Third Day of Chhath Puja
The third day of Chhath Puja is celebrated as ‘Sandhya Arghya’ on the day of Kartik Shukla Shashthi. Sandhya Arghya is the most important day in Chhath Puja. Thekua is made with desi ghee very cleanly on the day of Shashthi. Apart from this, there are cloves, large cardamom, betel nut, foregut, sweets, raw turmeric, ginger, banana, lemon, radish, coconut, vermilion, sugarcane, hock, fruit, etc. Chhath Mata and Surya Dev are offered as Prasads. Keeping all these things in a basket made of Bamboo, the men of the house keep it on their heads and take it to the Ghat.
While carrying the basket to the Ghat, the women go by singing the songs of Chhath. On this day. The fasting people go to the Ghat to give evening Arghya after making all the preparations for worship. Women or men keeping this fast wear a new Sari or Dhoti on this day. After reaching the Ghat, before the sunset, people who keep the fast take all the items of worship and go to the water till the knee and stand there. And do the circumambulation five times by offering Arghya to the sun god.
4- The Fourth Day of Chhath Puja
The fourth and last day of Chhath Puja is celebrated on the day of Kartik Shukla Saptami as ‘Usha Arghya’. On this day all the fasting people take all the items of worship. And, stand in the water and offer Arghya to the rising sun. After this, Prasad is distributed among all the people present at the Ghat. The people keeping the fast go home and complete the fast by eating prasad. This fast is concluded by completing this process.
As the ancient festival specially celebrated in Bihar as well as most parts of the country, Chhath Pooja is most popular and dedicated to Lord Surya and Chhath Maiya. Among the Diwali festival, Holi, Dussehra and various others, it has its own importance. To celebrate this festivals, you can easily make hire a taxi service for making a long trip or traveling in local. And, explore all your favorite places with your family.