Chhath Pooja Festival is a religious celebration of Hindus.It is also known as Dala Chhath. It is celebrated mainly in northern Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Utter Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha etc including Mauritius and Tarai region of Nepal. This festivity is generally adopted by Bhojpuri and Maithili speakers.It holds a lot of rituals and performances during the celebration.The Sun God(the God of light and energy) and Chhathi Maiya (goddess) is worshiped in this festival for prosperity and abundance. The whole family includes in the celebration leaded by a person (generally a woman called Vratin). This celebration holds on the bank of a river or pond or other water resources.People wear their best clothes and enjoy.
Rituals of Chhath Pooja Festival- Four Days Celebration
Chhath Pooja Festival is performed on 6th day of the month Kartika of Vikram Samant (solar calendar). This falls typically in month of October or November in Gregorian calendar. It is performed after Diwali. In real this is a festival of four days. The first day of this festivity is called Nahay-Khay in regional language , which literally means ‘to take a bath and eat’. The devotees go to a sacred river in their place and take a dip in the river. Also they bring water to their homes for preparing Prasad or sacred food for God Sun. Houses and surrounding are essentially to be cleaned on this day. Also, the person who is on fasting, is allowed to have meal once this day. The second day is known as Kharna. The devotees on fasting are not supposed to eat anything, even water before the sunset on 2nd day. They perform Puja and offer Prasad to Lord Sun before sunset and after sunset they break their fasting. Apart from this Prasad which mainly includes Rasiaaw-kheer, Puri and fruits, is distributed among friends and neighbours. From this time Vratins go on a fast for the next 36 hours.
On The third day two main rituals are performed named as ‘Sanjhiya Arghya or Sanjhi Ghate and Koshi ‘. The term Sanjhi Ghate literally means ` Puja and other performances held in the evening`. They prepare offerings at homes entire day. In the evening, Vratins along with other members of the family go to the bank of a river/pond and present offerings to the setting sun. These offerings include coconut, Thekua, flowers and other fruits which are presented on a bamboo tray. On this occasion, banks and surrounding area of the river/pond are cleaned and adorned with bananas tree & paper flower. Many folk songs are sung on these occasions. The second event is called Kosi. As per Kosi , earthen lamps are lighted placing on five sugarcane sticks. These five sticks symbolize the five basic elements of nature-Earth, water, fire, air, and ether. This ritual is especially followed by the family where childbirth or marriage has taken place recently. The ritual is conducted both at home and bank of a river or other water resource. The fourth day(also called Parana) is the last day of Chhath Pooja festival. The offerings are given to the rising sun in the morning -this is called Bhihaniya Araghya. The Vratins break their 36 hours’ fasting on this day. Prasad is distributed among friends, relatives, and neighbors.
History And Origin Of Chhath Pooja Festival
The origin of this festival goes to Vedic time. Rigveda refers worshiping the sun god and similar rituals that are performed on Chhath. It is believed that Rishis and Munis of those time used to go on fasting and absorb energy directly from the sun. The epic Mahabharat also contains a reference to Chhath. Draupadi of Mahabharat performed Chhath for immediate solution of Pandavs. This also helped in regaining their kingdom of Hastinapur (present Delhi). It is believed that rituals came to be recognized broadly and had been carried forward through generation.
Rules And Regulations Of Chhath Pooja
Being one of the most difficult and sensitive celebrations of Hindu religion strict rules and regulations are followed by the devotees. Some of them are given here. Fasting must be performed with full purity and cleanliness. All the actions related to this festival are performed by an adult married woman. All ladies and gents of the family have to sleep on the floor at night of the main day of the festival. The kitchen and all the utensils must be cleaned thoroughly before preparing Prasad. Wearing stitched clothes and eating cooked food are not allowed for adult married ladies. If a person hand over this festival then he should continue it 5 years. It can be skipped if there is a death in the family that year.
Significance of Chhath Pooja Festival
The word ‘Chhath’ means 6 (six) symbolizing to grasp energy from the sun in six stages. This is the festival which does not require a Pandit (religious leader of Hindu). It has a scientific basis for being celebrated. The greatest source of energy on the earth is the sun. The sun is only Lord who is directly visible to us. The sun is a great source of vitamin D which is very essential for our health. It improves the activity of white blood cells. There is another Chhath called ‘Chaiti Chhath’. It is celebrated on 6th of Chaitra (the first month of Hindu calendar) and generally falls in the summer(March – April) as per Gregorian calendar. Performing the sun worshiping, greatly reduces the feeling of ego, anger, jealousy and other negative feelings. This festivity increases faith and willingness toward God.