Chhath Puja, also known as Chhathi Puja, is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun God Surya and Chhathi Maiya, a form of Devi who is considered the sister of Surya. The festival is celebrated primarily in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Nepal, and is also observed by diaspora communities around the world.
Chhath Puja is a four-day festival that typically falls in late October or early November, coinciding with the Hindu month of Kartik. Devotees observe a strict fast for the entire duration of the festival, abstaining from all food and water. The rituals of Chhath Puja are characterized by their austerity and devotion to the Sun God.
The main rituals of Chhath Puja include:
Nahay-Khay: Devotees take a holy bath in a river or pond, symbolizing purification and preparation for the upcoming rituals.
Karna: Devotees offer prayers to Surya and Chhathi Maiya, expressing their gratitude and seeking their blessings.
Sandhya Argh: Devotees offer arghya (offerings) to the setting sun, standing knee-deep in water.
Pravarti: Devotees perform a ritualistic circumambulation of a sacred sugarcane stalk, representing the sun’s journey across the sky.
Usha Argh: Devotees offer arghya to the rising sun, once again standing knee-deep in water.
Prasad: Devotees break their fast by consuming thekua, a sweet dish made from wheat, jaggery, and dry fruits, which has been offered to the Sun God.
Chhath Puja is a deeply significant festival for devotees, who view it as an opportunity to express their devotion to the Sun God and Chhathi Maiya and seek their blessings for a prosperous and fulfilling life. The festival’s rituals, though demanding, are believed to bring immense spiritual benefits and strengthen the connection between devotees and the divine.