An ancient Hindu festival of India, Chhath Puja is widely celebrated in many Indian states at the beginning of the winter season. Dedicated to Vedic Deity, Surya (Sun) and his consort Usha (referred to as Chhathi Maiya), this great Indian festival is all about expressing gratitude to them.
On this auspicious occasion, people pay reverence to the supreme source of power, light and energy: Sun. Various rituals are performed over a span of four days and people observe a strict fast in various regions of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and also, the neighbouring country, Nepal.
Being recognized as the only festival in the entire world that pays reverence to the rising and the setting sun, there are plenty of intriguing things that we have put together for you to know. Right from its history, rituals and benefits, here’s a complete guide to the famous ancient festival of India-Chhath Puja. Take a gander!
History of Chhath Puja
The festival that promotes well-being and prosperity, Chhath Puja traces its roots back to the Early Vedic Period to the time when sages performed rituals by exposing themselves to direct sunlight and also abstained themselves from consuming food.
According to the mythological fable, Mahabharata, Chhath Puja was first performed by Karna-the tragic hero who was the spiritual son of Vedic Lord Sun and Princess Kunti. According to another fable, it is stated that Draupadi and her five husbands - the mighty Pandavas hailing from Hastinapur used to chant mantras from Rig Veda and also performed the rituals of Chhath Puja to gain their lost kingdom again. Also, the traces of Chhath Puja are found in Ramayana where it’s mentioned that after returning from exile of 14 years, Lord Rama with his consort Sita began to offer prayers to Sun God and also observed fast during the Shukla Paksha in Kartika month, exactly when the celebration of Chhath Puja takes places. Following the suite, devotees honour the God of Light and perform all the significant rituals with utmost faith even today.
Rituals of Chhath Puja
The only festival that pays tribute to the God that brings light and energy to earth, Chhath Puja involves many rituals where the Vedic deity-Surya is worshipped for 4 days at a stretch in the month of Kartikeya that usually falls in October or November. Right from the 6th day of the month, rituals such as fasting (abstaining from consuming food and drinking water), offering Arghya to the setting and rising sun by standing in the river for long hours and taking holy dip set about with gratification and gusto. The age-old festival of Bihar, Chhath Puja, unlike other festivals of India involves only worshipping of the life force whilst restricting Idol Worshipping and therefore is regarded as the most eco-friendly Hindu festival that doesn’t harm nature in any way.
Benefits of Chhath Puja
Being the oldest and religious festival of Bihar, Chhath Puja aka Chhath Parva or Surya Sasthi holds great significance in the hearts of devotees who have utmost faith in Chhati Maiya and Sun God. Sun has been the greatest source of energy for earth, it is a known fact. And the unique rituals of the festival have a science associated that brings in various health benefits. Besides being famous for ethnicity, it is proven that the rituals of the Chhath Festival stimulate the immune system and boosts mental health.
Standing before the setting and the rising sun in a river or a pond when the ultraviolet rays of the sun are lowest helps in the absorption of much-needed vitamin D (that can be only sourced from the sunlight). The sun rays also help in detoxification and also eliminate the negative energies that surround us. Praying at the river bank for long hours serves the purpose of both, detoxification of the body that cleanses our immune system and synthesis of vitamin D that most of us are deficient in.
Now, without thinking twice, be a part of the famous regional festival, Chhath Puja that is not just religious but is also scientifically beneficial for each one of us. May the Sun in your life never sets. Happy Chhath Puja!
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