Chhath Puja is a religious Hindu Vedic festival that is celebrated across the subcontinent India, the festival is widely celebrated in the northern states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and some regions of Nepal.
Why the festival is called Chhath:
In simple term, the ‘Chhath’ means six in Hindi and Nepalese language and as the festival is celebrated in the 6th day of the month of Kartika that’s why it is known as “Chhath”.
Why Chhath Puja is celebrated:
The Vedic mantras of Rigveda that are chanted mainly consisting the mention of the sun god “suryadev” because rishis sages believed that if they offer the respect and the offerings to the “suryadev” he’ll get happy and provide all the necessary external means of the food in the form of sunrays and cosmic energy.
Types of Chhath Puja:
Chaitra Chhath: celebrated in the month of Chaitra of Vikram Samvat.
Karthika Chhath: celebrated in the Kartika month of Vikram Samvat. This one is most famous and celebrated at a very huge scale.
The significance of Chhath Puja:
In Indian mythology, sun is believed to be the primary source of energy that contributes to life on earth. Therefore at the time of Chhath Puja also known as Chhath parab in some places people pay their gratitude towards “suryadev” and thank him for supporting life and seek his blessings.
The scientific significance of Chhath Puja:
Many scientists believe that Chhath Puja is the major cause of getting rid of the human body toxicity. After taking dips in the water and exposing right in front of the sun at the time of sunrise it increases the solar bio-electricity that improves the overall functionality of the human body. Some also believe that Chhath Puja eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses. As a matter of fact, it is said that when you take a dip in water and stand in front of the sun at the sunrise or sunset due to the low UV radiations you will feel calm and subtleness in your nature.
The history behind Chhath Puja:
As rishis and sages described this phenomenon in the Vedas and ancient manuscripts they believe that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya from exile after 14 years he and his wife Sita took a fast and broke it in the evening to pay their gratitude towards the
“Suryadev” and since then that day till now is known as “Chhath Puja”.
Connections of Chhath Puja and Mahabharata:
According to Mahabharata, lord Surya’s son Karna was the first person to perform some these rituals towards his father “Suryadev”. He offered prayers to his father while standing in water and offered Prasad to the needy. This gradually became the ritual of Chhath Puja and some also believe that Draupadi and Pandavas also performed these rituals to regain their lost kingdom.
Rituals of Chhath Puja:
There are 4-day rituals in Chhath Puja include taking bath in the river, fasting and offering Prasad and arghya to the sun during sunrise and sunset.
First day: Nyay-khay
On the first day, devotees take baths in the holy water of Ganga early in the morning. After this, they prepare Prasad to offer to the “Suryadev”. Then the entire house and surroundings are cleansed with Ganga Jal.
Second day: Lohanda and Kharna (Argasan)
During the second-day devotees fast for the entire day and break it after worshipping the “Suryadev” in the evening. A special meal is prepared “Tasmai” (a dish similar to rice pudding or kheer) and puris are offered to the “Suryadev”, after which devotees can break their fast. After worshipping the god and breaking their fast, people again fast for 36 hours this time without food and water.
Third day: Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings)
On this day many people believe that devotees fast without a drop of water. On this day the children of the family make baskets from the bamboos and fill them with seasonal fruits like oranges, guava, bananas, dry fruits etc. then male members carry these baskets to the Riverside and then these baskets are kept near the Ghats where the Vratin takes a dip and offers “Arghya” to the setting sun.
At night, a colourful event called Kosi is celebrated by lighting diyas under five sugarcane sticks while singing folk songs and mantras. These five sticks represent five elements of nature or Panchatattva which includes the earth, water, fire, air and space.
Fourth day: Bihaniya Arghya (morning offerings)
On the last day, families gather on the banks of the river before sunrise. The baskets are brought back to the Ghats and Vratin takes a dip in the water and offers prayers and Prasad to the Sun and Usha. After the offerings, the devotees break their fast and have Prasad from the baskets.
On the way back home, the Vratin pays gratitude to the soil as a gesture of thanks for providing them food.
Stages of Chhath Puja:
Fasting during Chhath Puja helps the body to detoxify the mind and body.
During Chhath people tends to stand in water and that helps to release energy from the body and relaxes your mind.
After the previous stage, the cosmic solar energy enters the Triveni complex- the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands. This process is done through the retina and optic nerves.
In this stage, Triveni complex gets activated After the Triveni gets activated the spine gets polarized which turns the body of devotee into a cosmic powerhouse.
In the final stage, the body of devotee turns into a channel that can conduct, recycle and transmit the energy of the entire universe.
It is believed that these rituals detoxify the body and mind and provides mental calmness. It enhances immunity, infuses energy and reduces anger and stress.
Types of food during Chhath Puja:
Thekua: Thekua is a special part of Chhath Puja and it’s basically a cookie which is made with whole wheat flour.
Tasmai: It’s a rice pudding or kheer which serve with puris and goes very well.
In Chhath there is one thing you’ll definitely going to see that everything is going to be sweet and aromatic because during Chhath devotees avoid onion and garlic infusions in their food.
Interesting and unique facts related to Chhath Puja:
Chhath Puja is the only Vedic festival which celebrated in India. Chhath is associated with witch Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata with more than one character is associated. Chhath clears the mythology as well as scientific reasons.
Chhath is the sole reason for optimum absorptions of calcium and vitamin D. During Chhath people tends to offer prayers and Prasad to the sun just like other ancient civilisation.