Chhath Puja History
The festival of honoring and offering praises to the Sun God, known as Chhath Puja, is believed to have been performed since the ancient times of Vedic. Etymologically, the word Chhath is made up of two rods: Chah, meaning 6 stages and Hath, meaning the science of Hath Yog (austerity). Combined together, Chhath means the process of obtaining solar energy from the sun through six stages. Rigveda, one of the four Hindu Vedas, contains hymns worshipping the Sun God and describes rituals of the similar kind that are performed on the day of Chhath. It’s believed that Rishi Munis of those times used to abstain from food and absorb energy solely and directly from the rays of the sun.
Even the ancient Sanskrit texts of the epic Mahabharata contain references to Draupadi, worshipping the sun. It is said that following an advice from the noble sage Dhaumya, Draupadi resorted to Chhath Vrat after seeing Pandavas in unsolvable difficulty. Through this Sun God worship ritual, she was not only able to solve the immediate problems but later, also helped Pandavas regain their kingdom of Hastinapur (present day Delhi). It is said that Karna, son of Surya (sun), who fought against the Pandavas in the great war of Kurukshetra, also performed the ritual of Chhath. At some point of time during the history, it is believed that the ritual came to be recognized widely and has been carried forward through generations since then.
Today, Chhath Puja that is observed in many parts of the country and is a four day ritual of honoring the Sun God for granting bountifully, all the means of well being as well as fulfillment of certain wishes through prayers, praises, and abstinence from worldly pleasures. Popular belief also has it that worshipping the Sun God also cures diseases like leprosy and ensures longevity and prosperity of the family. It is with strict discipline, purity, and highest esteem that the ritual is performed. And once a family starts performing the Chhath Puja, it becomes their duty to pass on the tradition to the following generations. It’s how the ancient ritual has arrived where it stands today in the highest regard among the devotees.
Considered as the the most grandeur form of Sun worship, millions across the country partake in the fasting and worshipping. Prayers and Prasad (food offering), including sweets and fruits, are offered by the devotees to the Sun God. The ritual is generally performed on the banks of rivers, mainly on the banks the river Ganges that flows through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. A huge gathering of devotees, which goes on for miles, can be seen o the banks of river Ganges. In other parts of India, any other river or a small water body like a pond is considered an ideal location to perform the ritual. It is in the month of October or November that Chhath Puja falls.
Chhath Puja 2016: Rules & Regulations
Being one of the most difficult Parva of Hindu religion, strict rules and regulations are followed by the devotees. It is believed that a small mistake while performing the rituals of Chhath Puja is highly inauspicious. So, let’s discuss about the rules and regulations of Chhath Puja, before celebrating Chhath Puja in 2016.
Fast of Chhath Puja should be performed by taking full care of cleanliness and purity.
All the works related to the performance of Chhath Puja should be performed by adult married women.
The ladies and gents of the family have to sleep on floor on the night of the main day of the festival.
The kitchen and all the utensils should be thoroughly cleaned before preparing the Prasad of Chhath Puja.
Temporary separate kitchen and utensils are also arranged especially for celebrating Chhat Puja.
There is a tradition of preparing Thekua (regional sweet dish) for celebrating the festival of Chhath Puja.
All the preparations for making Prasad should be done by adult married ladies.
All the adult married ladies have to follow certain rules such as they can’t eat cooked food and can’t wear stitched clothes.
Chhath Puja 2016: How To Celebrate Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is a festival that is celebrated over a period of four days. Let’s read about all these days, one by one.
Day 1: Naha Kha- Bathe And Eat :-
The first day of the celebration of Chhath starts with a holy dip into the sacred River Ganges (or any nearby river). Devotees carry the water and prepare offerings using the water of the Ganges. The houses where the pujas take place have to be thoroughly cleaned. Worshipper is only allowed to take one meal on this day. Some of the places know this tradition as “kaddu bhat”. Parvaitin generally eats kaddu, channa dal and arwa chawal.
Day 2: Kharna- The Day Before Chhath :-
On Panchami, the day before Chhath, parvaitins fast from daybreak to sundown. They are not even allowed to drink water. The Parvaitin takes food after she offers prayers and Prasad to Surya after the sunset. Racio-kheer, puris and bananas are circulated among the family members and friends. Friends are invited to the homes to share Prasad. Later on, the Parvaitin goes on a fast for almost 36 hours. Parvaitins don’t even take water during these 36 hours.
Day 3: Sanjhiya Arghya :-
Evening offerings (Sanjhiya Arghya): The day is mainly spent in preparing Prasad at home. Thekua (a fried cookie like food) and kasara (laddo made of rice powder) are the most important offerings. Households honor and pray to the setting sun by offerings (Aragh) and to do that all the family members visit riverbanks or nearby pond or common large water body along with Parvaitins.
It’s not only Parvaitins or the family members, but onlookers and numerous participants are keenly interested to partake in the carnival. The blessings of the Sun God and worshippers are rewarding. Singing traditional folk songs during the occasion is an integral part of the Chhath celebration. The tradition is carried forward orally from mothers and mother-in-laws to daughters and daughter-in-laws.
The folk songs truly depict the cultures and social structures of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Even though the latest trend is to play Bollywood hit numbers during the festival but the traditional folk songs are the vital parts of the Chhath puja celebration and is still going strong with a great degree of purity and holiness. Bihar comprises of three prime linguistic regions namely Maithili, Magadhi and Bhojpuri. All the various norms and dialects of these places vary a lot. However, the underlying meanings of the folk songs are almost same and all these songs are related to Chhath. Even though there is a fundamental similarity in the celebration and rituals of Chhath festival but rituals vary significantly from one region to the other and even between the families.
Kosi: It’s a colorful event of Chhath festival and is held during the third night. An awning is made with five sugarcane sticks to place lighted clay lamps underneath. The existence of five sticks exemplifies the human body made of Panchatattva (The five great elements- earth, water, fire, air and ether). This ritual is mainly performed in the family where a recent marriage ceremony or childbirth has taken place. This is basically a symbolic rite. The lighted earthen lamps signify and imply that human beings are sustaining due to the energy generated by the Sun. The ritual is performed during the period of late evening on the third day while making the offerings to the setting sun.
Day 4: Parna- The Day After Chhath :-
Bihaniya Aragh, the next morning offerings: It is the time to make offerings (aragh) to the rising sun. Devotees along with friends and family members travel to the banks of the river before sun rises. The festival ends with breaking the devotional fasting of Parvaitins and all the friends who visit the houses to share Prasad. It’s an enticing and charming experience to watch the vista around when the Chhath is celebrated at the crack of the dawn on the banks of the river. It’s a place where devotees can witness the blend of the ancient traditions and modern Indian cultures. The river Ganges is worshipped as mother after aragh.
Benefits of Chhath-Pooja
It improves eyesight and mentains the skin texture
The Chhath process improves the immunity of the body.
The sunlight helps cure fungal and bacterial infections of the skin.
The solar energy balances the hormonal secretion.
The relaxed mind becomes creative.
The will power is increased and the mind becomes strong and controlled.
Cleanliness of the food and environment is practised by the devotees.
Significance of Chhath Puja
Chhath puja has a special significance during the Sunrise and Sunset periods. The Sunrise and sunset are the most important periods of the day during which a human body can safely get the solar energy without any harm. That’s why there is a myth of offering the Sanjhiya Arghya and Bihaniya Arghya to the Sun at the Chhath festival. During this period the solar energy has low level of ultraviolet radiations so it is safe for the human body. People perform the Chhath puja in order to thank the Lord Sun for continuing the life on the earth as well as to get blessings.
The ritual of Chhath puja provides mental calmness (by detoxifying the body and mind), enhances the energy level and immunity, reduces the frequency of anger, jealous as well as lot of negative emotions. It is also believed that following the Chhath processes helps in slowing down the ageing process. Such beliefs and rituals of the Chhath make it the most significant festival in the Hinduism.
Chhath Puja 2016 Dates
|Chhath Puja 2016||4 November,2016||Friday||Nahai Khai||Chaturthi|
|Chhath Puja 2016||5 November,2016||Saturday||Kharna||Panchami|
|Chhath Puja 2016||6 November,2016||Sunday||Sandhya Argh||Shashthi|
|Chhath Puja 2016||7 November,2016||Monday||Suryodaya Argh||Saptami|