Chhath Puja-the worship of the Sun God is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated on the sixth day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Kartik. This festival is celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Terai region of Nepal in eastern India. Chhath Puja festival, which is mostly celebrated by Hindus, is also observed among people of some other faiths. Gradually this festival has spread all over the world through expatriate Indians. Chhath Puja is dedicated to Surya and his consort Usha, also known as Chhothi Mai. In Chhath Puja, Surya and Chhothi Mai are thanked and blessed for maintaining the flow of life on earth. No idol is worshipped in this celebration. The Sun God is the main deity worshipped in this puja.
The Naming of Chhath Puja Festival
The word Chhath or Chhath is derived from the word Shashthi. It is called Chhath because of the Surya Shashthi vrat. After the celebration of Diwali on the new moon day of the month of Kartik, this four-day vrat begins from Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and continues till Saptami. The most difficult and significant night of this puja is Kartik Shukla Shashthi. Due to the fact that this vrat is celebrated on the sixth day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Kartik of Vikram Samvat, it has been named Chhath.
Rituals of Chhath Puja
On the first day of this four-day vrat, a devotee observes this vrat, cleans his/her house, takes a bath, and eats vegetarian food in a pure manner. The fasting starts from the next day. After the Nirjala fasting v day long, one has to enjoy milk at the end of Puja in the evening. This is why the name of this ritual is Kharna. On the third day, he/she goes to a nearest river or reservoir and offer milk to the setting sun along with other novices.
On the last day of the vrat, after going to the Ganga Ghat and offering the rising sun with a holy heart, one has to break the fast by eating sweets, milk, thekua, naru and fruits like sugarcane, banana, sweet lemon etc. At the end of the Chhath celebration, prasadam is distributed to all the acquaintances.
Talker: Krishna Das