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Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as well as the Madhesh region of Nepal. The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun and his wife Usha in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. Chhath does not involve any idol worship. This festival is observed by Nepalese and Indian people, along with their diaspora. While it is a Hindu festival, some Muslims also celebrate Chhath.
Performing of prayer to Sun around the holy rivers, ponds and other small water bodies
|Liturgical Color||Colors related to Hinduism|
Saffron (or Bhagwa)
|Type||Cultural, Historical, Religious|
|Significance||To thank Sun for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and fulfilling particular wishes|
|2018 date||11 November to 14 November|
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.
Environmentalists claim that Chhath is the most eco-friendly Hindu festival. Although the festival is observed most elaborately in Madhesh (southern) region of Nepal and Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, it is also more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence. It is celebrated in all Northern regions and major Northern urban centers in India. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan Mumbai, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, other parts of the Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Macau, Japan, and Indonesia.
Date of the festivalEdit
Chhath puja is performed on Kartika Shukla Shashthi, which is the sixth day of the month of Kartika in the Vikram Samvat. This falls typically in the month of October or November in the Gregorian English Calendar. It is also celebrated in the month of Chaitra.
Chhath Puja 2018 DatesEdit
Chhath puja is on the 13th(sunset) & 14th(sunrise) of November 2018. The four-day festival will start from 11 November and will end on 14 November.
It is also celebrated in the summer (March–April), on Chaitra Shashthi, some days after Holi; this event is called Chaiti Chhath. Chhath is an arduous observance, requiring the worshipers to fast without sip of water for around 36 hours continuously.
The word chhath means sixth in Nepali, Maithili and Bhojpuri languages and the festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the month Kārtika of the Hindu luni-solar Bikram Sambat calendar. The word is a Prakrit derivation from the Sanskrit ṣaṣṭhi, meaning sixth.It is the longest and most important festival after navratri.
The very first day of chhath starts exactly 4 days from Diwali and last for 4 more days. This day the people who observe fast take bath at a river or pond and prepare lunch (consisting of rice, dal mixed with pumpkin, made in pure ghee).
The second day (5th day from Diwali) is known as kharna or kheer- roti. In which the kheer( A Indian recipe where rice is prepared with sweetened milk instead of water) and chapati ( called roti in many Indian provinces). The people observe fast for the full day without taking even water and eat this kheer-roti as dinner after offering it to the rising moon and Goddess Ganga. This is the only time when they eat or drink anything from the starting of the day till the last day of chhath.
The third day is the main festival day (exactly 6th day from Diwali) of chhath. The devotees maintain 'nirjal vrat(vrata)' ( Fast without even taking a drop of water ) on the third day. It mainly consist of going on river bank and offering 'argha' ( offering of fruits and sweets in winnow ) and surya namaskar to the setting sun followed by the next day (exactly 7th day from Diwali) event of offering argha and surya namaskar to the rising sun on the fourth or last day of chhath. The fast is then come to end after offering argha to rising sun. In this way, nearly 42 hours of strict penance comes to an end.
It is believed that the ritual of Chhath puja may date back to the ancient Vedic texts, as the Rigveda contains hymns worshiping the Sun god and describes similar rituals. The rituals also find reference in the Sanskrit epic poem Mahābhārata in which Draupadi is depicted as observing similar rites.
In the poem, Draupadi and the Pandavas, rulers of Indraprastha (modern Delhi), performed the Chhath ritual on the advice of noble sage Dhaumya. Through her worship of the Sun God, Draupadi was not only able to solve her immediate problems, but also helped the Pandavas later regain their lost kingdom.
Its yogic history dates back to the Vedic times. The rishis of yore used this method to remain without any external intake of food as they were able to obtain energy directly from the sun's rays. This was done through the Chhath method.  Another history behind celebrating the Chhath puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that Lord Rama of Ayodhya and Sita of Mithila had kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksh during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
The Goddess who is worshipped during the famous Chhath Puja is known as Chhathi Maiya. Chhathi Maiya is known as Usha in the Vedas. She is believed to be the beloved younger wife of Surya, the sun god. In mithilanchal region she is also worshipped as name of "RANA MAI ".
This is the only festival which signifies both the rising and setting sun.
The most unique feature about the Chhath Puja is the main idea behind it which is above the disputed concept of Murti Pujan (Idol Worshipping) unlike most of the festivals of the Hindu religion. Some people simply believe that, Sun is necessary for life of possibly every creature on the earth and this festival is a way to pay tribute to it irrespective of caste, creed, gender and social stigmas.
Rituals and traditionsEdit
The main worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women. However, a large number of men also observe this festival as Chhath is not a gender-specific festival. The parvaitin pray for the well-being of their family, and for the prosperity of their offsprings. Once a family member starts performing Chhath Puja, it is their compulsory duty to perform it every year and to pass it on to the following generations. The festival is skipped only if there happens to be a death in the family that year. If the person stops performing the ritual on any particular year, it stops permanently and one cannot resume it again.
The prasad offerings include sweets, Kheer, Thekua, rice laddu(made of rice grit) and fruits (mainly sugarcane, sweet lime and banana) offered in small bamboo soop winnows. The food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.
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Some devotees go to river banks to worship the sun by prostrating themselves the entire distance.
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