Chhath Puja: A Celebration of Sun, Devotion, and Tradition
India, a land rich in festivals and cultural diversity, boasts a plethora of celebrations that bring people together in joyous harmony. Among these vibrant festivities, Chhath Puja stands out as a profound expression of devotion to the Sun God, Lord Surya, and his consort Usha, also known as Chhathi Maiya. This blog will take you on a journey through the essence, meaning, significance, and rituals of Chhath Puja, a four-day festival celebrated with immense enthusiasm, particularly in Bihar and Jharkhand.
The Meaning Behind Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja derives its name from the word “Chhath,” signifying the sixth day of the Kartikeya month in the Hindu calendar, typically falling in October or November. This festival spans four days, making it the second-longest festival after Navratri. It holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Bihar and Jharkhand, drawing thousands of devotees to rivers, ponds, ghats, and other water bodies.
Significance of Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is deeply rooted in Hindu tradition, with worshippers expressing gratitude to the Sun God for sustaining life on Earth and seeking blessings for their well-being and progress. The offerings are made not only to Lord Surya but also to Chhathi Maiya, who is believed to grant longevity to offspring. A unique aspect of Chhath Puja is the ritualistic Chhath vrat, where devotees consume only one full vegetarian meal per day. It is celebrated with immense joy, just a week after Diwali, adding to the festive spirit.
Chhath Puja 2023: Dates and Timings
Chhath Puja adheres to the Hindu calendar, observed on the sixth day of the Kartik month. The four days of the festival have specific sunrise and sunset timings:
Day 1 – Chaturthi (Nahay Khay)
- Date: November 17, 2023
- Sunrise: 06:45 AM
- Sunset: 05:27 PM
Day 2 – Panchami (Lohanda and Kharna)
- Date: November 18, 2023
- Sunrise: 06:46 AM
- Sunset: 05:26 PM
Day 3 – Shashthi (Chhath Puja, Sandhya Arghya)
- Chhath Puja Date: November 19, 2023
- Sunrise: 06:46 AM
- Sunset: 05:26 PM
Day 4 – Ashtami (Usha Arghya, Parana Day)
- Date: October 20 November 2023
- Sunrise: 6:32 AM
- Sunset: 5:37 PM
The Story of Chhath Puja
The origins of Chhath Puja can be traced back to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Legend has it that King Priyavrat, son of Manu Swayambhu, was childless and deeply despondent. Upon the advice of Maharishi Kashyap, he performed a yajna, leading to the birth of a stillborn child. In his despair, a divine craft appeared, carrying Shashti Maa, who revived the child, blessing King Priyavrat with progeny. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the king worshipped Mata Shashti, marking the inception of Chhath Puja as a global tradition.
Chhath Special Rituals
The four days of Chhath Puja bring forth a series of rituals known as Surya Shashthi, Chhathi, Dala Chhath, and Prathihar:
Nahaye Khaye (Day 1)
- Devotees take a holy dip in rivers, ponds, or other water sources.
- Homes are cleaned, and a vegetarian meal is prepared and offered as bhog in the afternoon.
Kharna (Day 2)
- Devotees observe the Nirjala fast, abstaining from water consumption.
- A special Prasad of milk, jaggery, and rice is prepared and offered to Chhati Maiyya.
- This Prasad, along with spices, betel leaves, green ginger, and fruits, is distributed to relatives and friends.
Sandhya Arghya (Day 3)
- Arghya is offered to Lord Sun using Thekua, rice laddoos, and fruits arranged on a soop.
- Devotees worship Chhathi Mata, offering water and milk.
- Devotional songs are sung, and Chhath Vrat Katha is recited during the evening.
Usha Arghya (Day 4)
- The final day involves offering Arghya to the rising Sun.
- Devotees, along with their families, visit riverbanks with great zeal, praying for happiness and prosperity.
- Fasting individuals break their fast with ginger and jaggery.
The Essence of Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is a celebration deeply intertwined with nature and its blessings. Its simplicity and purity set it apart from other Hindu festivals, as it involves no idol worship. Instead, it pays homage to the Sun, the soul of the world and the eye of the creator. This festival radiates with grandeur, symbolizing protection, happiness, and the divine blessings of Lord Sun and Mata Shashti. May Chhath Puja bring you and your family boundless joy and protection as you celebrate this auspicious occasion!
In conclusion, Chhath Puja is a testament to the unwavering devotion and rich cultural heritage of India, where tradition and spirituality intertwine, connecting people to the divine through the radiant rays of the Sun. Happy Chhath Puja!