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Chhath Puja

November 19, 2023

Chhath Pooja

Chhath Puja, also known as Surya Shashti, is one of the most ancient and significant Hindu festivals celebrated with great fervor in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Nepal. The festival reveres the Sun God (Surya) and his wife Usha, also known as Chhathi Maiya, thanking them for bestowing the bounties of life on Earth and seeking their blessings for well-being, prosperity, and progress.
The term ‘Chhath’ translates to ‘sixth’ in Nepali, Maithili, and Bhojpuri languages and signifies the celebration of the festival on the sixth day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu calendar. Unlike many other Hindu festivals, Chhath Puja is characterized by austerity, cleanliness, discipline, and rigorous rituals that span four days.

Day one, known as Nahay Khay, starts with a ritualistic bath, followed by preparing and partaking in a meal cooked only on a traditional mud stove. The second day, Lohanda, involves the observers fasting till sunset, breaking it only after worshipping the Sun and the Moon. The third day, Sandhya Arghya, is the most significant day when devotees offer ‘Arghya’ to the setting sun. The devotees and their families and friends gather at the riverbank or a water body, sing folk songs, and perform rituals. The final day, Usha Arghya, involves similar offerings to the rising Sun, marking the festival’s conclusion.

Chhath Puja is unique because it is the only festival that reveres the Sun, acknowledged as the visible deity that bestows health and prosperity. It’s a time to thank the solar deity for providing life-sustaining energy to Earth and seek divine blessings to sustain life there.

The importance of the Sun in sustaining life is universally acknowledged. However, Chhath Puja goes beyond just the physical and cosmological aspects of the Sun. It is a moment of deep spiritual significance. The rituals and traditions associated with Chhath aim to prepare the devotees’ bodies, minds, and spirits for cosmic solar energy infusion.

An integral aspect of Chhath Puja is the strict observance of purity and cleanliness. The prasad (offerings) for the festival include thekuas, fruits, and other offerings, preferably cooked on earthen stoves and served on banana leaves or earthen pots. Devotees also maintain cleanliness and purity of the body and mind and observe spiritual discipline.

Chhath Puja also holds socio-cultural significance. It is a festival without distinction of caste, creed, gender, or social stigmas, promoting social harmony and inclusivity. Everyone, irrespective of their social status, comes together to celebrate the festival.

Chhath Puja’s focus on the conservation of nature and respect for natural resources like the Sun and water signifies its inherent theme of eco-friendliness. This festival encourages protecting the environment and natural habitats like rivers and ponds.

Overall, Chhath Puja is not merely a festival but a means to express gratitude to nature’s forces. It is a celebration of life, health, and prosperity imparted by the Sun God. It provides a platform for social and cultural interactions while strengthening the values of discipline, cleanliness, and devotion. Chhath Puja exemplifies how cultural traditions can harmoniously blend with nature and spirituality, leading to holistic well-being and spiritual upliftment.


November 19, 2023
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