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Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja also called Dala Puja is a Hindu festival popular in the Northern and Eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand and even Nepal. The word ‘Chhath’ has its origin in ‘sixth’ as it is celebrated on the 6th day or ‘Shasthi’ of the lunar fortnight of Kartik (October - November) in the Hindu calendar – six days after Diwali, the festival of lights.
 
Chhath is mainly characterized by riverside rituals in which the Sun God or Surya is worshiped, giving it the name of ‘Suryasasthi.’ It underpins the ever so scientific belief that the Sun God fulfills every wish of earthlings and so it’s our duty to thank the sun with a special prayer for making our planet go round and bestowing living beings with the gift of life.
 
The ghats or riverbanks throng with devotees as they come to complete their ritual worship or ‘arghya’ of the sun – both at dawn and dusk. The morning ‘arghya’ is a prayer for a good harvest, peace and prosperity in the new year and the evening ‘arghya’ is an expression of thanks to the benevolence of the Sun God for all that he has bestowed during the year gone by.
 
The rituals at this day is to wake up early in the morning, take a holy bath in the Gange and keep fast for whole day, even people do not drink water and they keep themselves standing in the water for a long time. They offer prasad and aragh to the rising sun. It is celebrated in the various states of India like Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and Nepal. 
 
Chhath puja has a great significant 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 Pandavas of Hastinapur (New Delhi) for solving their instant problem and regaining their lost kingdom.
 
It is also 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 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.
 
The 4 Days of Chhath
 
  1. The first day of Chhath is called ‘Nahai Khai,’ which literally means ‘bath and eat’ when devotees bathe in the river, preferably a holy one such as the Ganga and bring home the water to cook food offerings for the Sun God.
     
  2. On the second day called ‘Kharna,’ the devotees observe 8-12 hours of anhydrous fast and end their ‘vrat’ in the evening after performing puja with the ‘prasad’ offered to Surya. This normally consists of ‘payasam’ or ‘kheer’ made rice and milk, ‘puris,’ fried bread made of wheat flour, and bananas, which are distributed to one and all at the end of the day.
     
  3. The third day is also spent in worship and preparing ‘prasad’ while fasting sans water. This day is marked by the elaborate evening ritual called the ‘Sandhya Arghya’ or ‘evening offering.’ The offerings are served to the setting sun on bamboo trays that has ‘Thekua,’ coconut, and banana among other fruits. This is followed by the ‘Kosi’ ritual in homes.
     
  4. The fourth day of Chhath is considered the most auspicious when the final morning ritual or ‘Bihaniya Arghya’ is performed. The devotees along with their family and friends congregate on the bank of the river to offer ‘arghyas’ to the rising sun. Once the morning ritual is over, devotees break their fast by taking a bite of ginger with sugar. This marks the end of the rituals as joyous celebrations ensue.
 
Stages of Chhath Puja
 
There are six great stages of the Chhath puja which are:
  1. The belief of fast and cleanliness of body on the festival identify the detoxification of the body and mind in order to set up the body and mind to accept the cosmic solar energy.
     
  2. Standing in water with half of the body inside the water diminishes the escape of energy as well as facilitates the prana to elevate to the sushumna.
     
  3. Then the entrance of cosmic solar energy takes place in the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands (known as the Triveni complex) by the retina and optic nerves.
     
  4. In the 4th stage Triveni complex gets activated.
     
  5. After activation of the Triveni complex, spine gets polarized and body of devotee gets transformed into a cosmic powerhouse and gets the Kundalini Shakti.
     
  6. At this stage the devotee is fully able to conduct, recycle and pass on the energy into entire universe.