Chhath puja festival also called Surya Shasthi performed to get divine blessings of lord Sun. This is an ancient hindu festival conducted in north India and mainly in Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern U.P. But presently migrants from Bihar and Jharkhand celebrate the festival all over India with great enthusiasm and devotion. It is believed that the celebration of festival started in the time of Pandvas when it was conducted mainly to intake energy from the sun god without taking any food and water as food.
The festival falls on sixth day of Kartika month as per hindu calendar so called Surya Shashti too. It is also called Dala Chhath festival. This is the sixth day after Diwali which falls on Amavasya night of Kartika.
You can get more details about Diwali and many other festivals like Goverdhan, Narak Chaturdashi, Bhaiduj by clicking at our Diwali link or you may take a look at our partner website by cliking on Diwali - the festival of light article. Chhath puja celebration starts after Bhaiduj festival and remains continue for four days.
Significance of Chhath puja
In hindu religion the Sun is considered as a god of power and energy and the festival is completely dedicated to lord sun. There are both scientific and social significance of the festival. In scientific view, sun heat cures many diseases including leprosy and is the main source of Vitamin-D which provides strength to bones.
Devotees thank sun god for giving life to living beings and pray him to grant their wishes for their health, wealth and for their offspring. In general plants which are the primary producers in all food chains, use sunlight for making their food and every living species uses its energy directly or indirectly for their life.
Segregation from luxuries of life and residence by devotees for four days without drinking water and strict fasting rules is the main part of chhath puja. Worshiper sleeps on floor and maintains purity in their relation, food and soul. During fast they take pure vegetarian offerings only.
The four days festival starts with bath in holy-river mainly in Ganga. The first day is called Nahay khay and 'Kaddu-bhat' cooked on mud-chulah (soil stove) is the only meal that can only be taken by the person observing fast after carrying holy water from river. The mango woods are used as fuel for mud chulah with soil or bronze utensils for cooking.
The Second day is Kharna, with full day fast that ends after sunset with worship of earth. Kheer without sugar, puri and banana are distributed as prasad. 36 hour fast starts from this day without a drop of water.
The Third day is Chhath (on sixth day of Kartika or Shashti), also called Sanjhiya Arghya. Prasad (offerings) are prepared at home and in evening persons observing fast (also called parvaitins) go to riverbanks for prayer and offering to sun called Aragh. Only in this phase of Chhath Puja, the devotees offer prayers to the setting sun. A huge crowd appears on this occasion at this place with great enthusiasm and traditional folk songs in Bhojpuri, Maithili and other dialects are sung based on traditional culture and religious belief of their areas.
Next (fourth) day is the final day called Parna for final Aragh (offering to sun god) when fast observers reach to river banks before sunrise. The scene looks so beautiful and spiritual when millions of devotees standing side by side pray to sun god. Fast observers stand in water carrying fruits and offerings in a bamboo's carrier for sun and doing Aragh while sunrise. The soil lamps (diyas) floating in water with offerings and religious folk songs sung with crackers and beautiful sunrise make every soul dipped in a divine spiritual experience.
The way of observing fast and celebrating way of Chhath puja includes a number of physical and mental benefits to the body of fast observer like increasing immunity, maintaining blood circulation and removal of toxicants from their body.
Importance of festivals in a democratic nation
India is the country of festivals. Different communities and their different traditions and cultures for celebrating the a festivals in different ways give different flavors and colors to the enjoyment of that festival. The beauty of democracy is that a person can celebrate any festival and can adopt any religion he likes. Festivals make a person social and religious. When a person observes a fast for the benefit of his family and society, he is serving his nation indirectly by worshiping for prosperity for people of his nation.
Festivals are our religious and traditional souvenirs. They let us connected with our roots. Every festival should be respected and celebrated with full enthusiasm, fervor and devotion by everyone.
More articles: Chhath Puja in UP