Chhath Puja is a four day festival celebrated in the Northern part of India. It honors the Sun God for His innumerous blessings & our existence on Earth. Both females and males observe fast on Chhath Puja and pray for children’s good health, success and happiness. It is not only performed in Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand but also celebrated with great devotion in Madhesh area of Nepal. This 4 day Puja begins from Chaturthi of Shukla Paksh in the Kartik month and ends on Shashti i.e. the sixth day. It is also known by other names like Surya Shashti, DalaChhath, ChhathParva, Dala Puja, etc.
Signficance of Chhath Puja
Dedicated to Lord Surya and ChhattiMaiyya, Chhath Puja is performed for either gaining a child or well- being of children. This is the most auspicious time of the year to thank Lord Surya for His divine blessings. The life and entire Creation is existing with the energy of Sun God and this day is especially devoted to Him. Along with Surya Dev, ChhattiMaiyya is prayed for prosperous and long life of offspring.
Chhath Puja Story
A famous story of Chhath Puja is related to a King named Priyavrat. He had everything but he was not completely happy or content. This was because he had no children of his own. MaharshiKashyapperformed a Yagya for blessings of a progeny. After the Yagya, MaharshiKashyap gave Kheer as Prasad to King Priyavrat’s wife Malini. She soon delivered a baby boy who turned out to be dead. Upset with the situation, the King and his family were worried. Goddess ChhattiMaiya appeared in front of the king and asked him to worship Her. This Goddess was formed from the sixth part of the primitive energy from the universe. It is the reason why the Goddess is called “Chhatti” or “Shashti” meaning sixth. As per the Goddess’s command, the king observed a fast (Vrat) for blessings of a child. The king was blessed with a beautiful son and that is why, Chhath Puja is performed for well- being of children & family.
Chhath Puja Vidhi
Before the Chhath Puja Vidhi, it is important to know the list of items required:
Bamboo basket in large size, 3 Bamboo sup for Chhath, Milk, Plate & Glass, Kumkum (Vermillion), Haldi (Turmeric), Rice grains, Camphor, Sandalwood, Diya (oil lamp), Paan (Betel leaf), honey, coconut, sugarcane, suthani fruit, pear, lemons, sweet potato, vegetable and sweets. For Prasad offering, items like Malpua, Thekua, SujiHalwa, Laddoos made of rice and Kheer, puri are to be prepared.
The Puja begins from Chaturthi and the first day is called NahayeKhaye. It involves taking a bath, cleansing yourself as well as the home and offering food to the God. After this, the food should be consumed. This keeps the mind safe from any negative thoughts.
The second day is Rasiaav Roti and a strict fast is observed. Devotees observing the fast are restricted from consuming water throughout the day. A delectable Rasiaav along with Roti/ Chapati and fruits is to be eaten in the evening. Rasiaav is special Kheer made of Gud (Jaggery) during Chhath Puja.
Third day of Chhath Puja is Sandhya Arghya and an Arghya is offered to Lord Surya in the evening. Decorate the bamboo basket with fruits, rice laddoos and thekua for arghya offering. First offer water and milk to Lord Sun and worship ChhattiMaiya with Prasad in bamboo sup. Once this puja is done, devotees can gather together and sing Shashti Devi songs/ Aarti and listen to the Vrat Katha at night.
The fourth and the final day of Chhath Puja is called UshaArghya. Wake up early in the morning before sunrise and go to the nearest riverbank or water body to worship the Sun God. The puja ingredients are to be placed in the bamboo basket and the Prasad in another sup. Now light a Diya in it and stand in knee deep water to offer Arghya to the rising Sun. Pray to ChhattiMaiya for blessings of joy and well- being of family and children. This concludes the Chhath Puja and the fast is broken with raw milk, some sherbet and the Prasad. It is known as Parana and puja rituals are complete.