Chhath Puja 2023
Chhath Puja is one of the prominent festivals celebrated across north India. This Vedic Hindu festival is dedicated to the Sun god and Usha or Shashthi Devi (Chhathi Maiyan). The festival is celebrated to thank them for bestowing people with their bounties of life and life force on the planet earth. Sun is believed to be the God of Energy and the source of healing, so he is thanked for the energy of life and healing of many illnesses and diseases. Chhath Puja is said to be the eco-friendliest Hindu festival by environmentalists.
Date & Time: In 2021, Chhath Puja is falling on Wednesday, November 18, 2023. The festival will begin with Shashthi Tithi at 06:19 on November 17, 2023, and will end at 8:25 on November 18, 2023.
History of the Festival
Chhath Puja is one of the ancient and prominent rituals mentioned in both Ramayana and Mahabharata. Even in Rig Veda, there are hymns worshipping Sun or Lord Surya. In Ramayana, when Lord Rama and Sita returned to Ayodhya, people celebrated Deepawali. Then on the sixth day of their return, Lord Rama established Ramrajya. On that day, both Lord Rama and Sita performed Surya Shashthi or Chhath Puja and kept fast. It is believed due to this fast and puja, Sita was blessed with Luv and Kush.
In Mahabharata, the puja was performed by Draupadi and Kunti after the Pandavas, Draupadi, and Kunti escaped from the Lakshagrih. It is believed that it was done to regain their kingdom and solve their problems. Another legend claims that Chhath Puja was first started by Karna (Surya Putra). The Indian scientific history or yogic history dates the puja to the early Vedic period. During that time, all rishis and sages used this to gain energy from the sun directly and restrain from gaining energy from any other external means.
There are two types of Chhath Puja. One is Chaitra Chhath, celebrated in the month of Chaitra of Vikram Samvat. Second is the Kartik Chhath, celebrated in the month of Kartika. The Kartik Chhath is the more popular one and is celebrated on a larger scale.
The Chhath Puja celebration involves several rituals that are a bit harsh to follow. The rituals spread over four days are:
- Nahay Khay – This is the first day of the puja, and devotees take an early morning dip in the holy river Ganga. After the bath, they prepare a proper meal, including popular food such as kaddu bhaat, kheer, and channa dal using bronze or mud utensils. Only one meal is taken by the ladies observing the fast.
- Lohanda and Kharna – On the second day, devotees observe fast for the whole day. The fast is broken after worshipping the Sun god in the evening. After breaking their fast, the devotees again fast for 36 hours without water or food.
- Sandhya Arghya – This third day is spent fasting and preparing the Prasad. In the evening, the whole family accompanies the ladies fasting or Vratins to the river bank with fruits and other offerings. Here the Vratins make offerings to the setting Sun. In the night, folk songs are sung, and Kosi is celebrated by lighting lamps or diyas under five sugarcane sticks.
- Usha/ Bihaniya Arghya- On the fourth day, devotees go to the river bank early morning and make offerings to the sun. Then the ladies break their 36-hour fast (Paran). On the return journey home, Vratinis also worship the soil to show their gratitude for providing food.
Various places that celebrate the festival
The festival of Chhath Puja is celebrated distinctly in different places. Some of the popular ones are:
- Bihar - In Bihar, Chhath Puja is celebrated with much splendor and enthusiasm. Every year, millions of devotees visit the state for the puja. In the capital, Patna, the festival is on a grand scale as it is situated on the banks of the River Ganga. It is one of the best places to offer prayers and enjoy magnificent celebrations throughout the city.
- Hajipur - Another popular place for puja due to Ganga-Gandaki banks.
- Munger - is popular due to the Sita Charan temple. It is believed Sita performed Chhath Puja in this temple.
- Ranchi - in Jharkhand is popular due to Ranchi Lake and other ponds and ghats such as Kunkay Talab, Button Talab, and Hatia Ghat.
- Jamshedpur – is known for the banks of Kharkai and Subarnarekha and Bagbera, Sidhgora, and Mango Ghats.
- Bokaro - is popular due to the Ganga river and its seven ghats attracting devotees from across the country. There are several ponds and reservoirs such as City Park pond, Cooling pond, and Rani Pokhar Pond.
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