Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival celebrated majorly in Bihar. On the day of this festival, people offer their gratitude to the Sun God by generally gathering at the banks of the holy river, Ganges. There they take a dip in the holy waters and offer their prayers to God simultaneously performing the important rituals pertaining to this festival.
Chhath Puja is actually one of the biggest festivals of Bihar where thousands of devotees participate in the sacred traditional festivities. Celebrated for a period of four days, this festival is a time of great fun and fervour. People can be seen having fun as devotional songs are played and folk dance are performed to light up the overall celebrations. Men and women can be seen wearing colourful attire. Not many people would know that this festival is also known for observing fasts and cleaning their utensils. The dates of the festival keep on fluctuating year by year. But generally, it falls sometime between the months of October and November, right after the festival of Diwali.
However, it is a major festival of Bihar, it is also celebrated in various states of Indian sub-continent like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and even in some regions of Nepal. It is interesting to know that the festival of Chhath Puja is primarily dedicated to the Sun God and his better-halves Usha (first light of the day) and Pratyusha (last light of the day). It is basically done so to thank them for providing Earth with many life-giving bounties of nature owing to which the possibility of life could happen on Earth.
The festival of Chhath Puja is majorly observed by the females in society and doesn't include any kind of idol worship. But, there is a large section of men who also perform this Puja. This clearly depicts that Chhath Puja is not at all gender-specific. The devotees while performing the Puja pray for the well-being of their family and success and health of their children.
What makes the festival of Chhath Puja tough is the fact that once a person initiates the ceremonies relating to Chhath Puja, it becomes compulsory for him or her to perform it every year and also teach their children to do the same when they grow up.
The festival can be skipped only if there has been a death in the family. However, if a person stops performing Chhath Puja without any reason then he or she cannot involve themselves in the festivities in the future ever again.
On this day, people make a diverse variety of dishes in their homes such as sweets, kheer, thekua, rice laddu which they use in parsadam. This prasadam is normally offered in small winnows which are made out of bamboos. Apart from the prasadam, the food which is offered is strictly vegetarian and is also cooked without any use of salt, onions and garlic.
It has been said that the rituals of Chhath Puja may even date back to the ancient era of the Vedas. The Rig Veda features hymns having excessive praise of Lord Surya. Interestingly, some of these customs also find mention in the epic Mahabharata where Draupadi is described performing the same rituals.
It has been described that Draupadi and Arjuna religiously performed the rituals of this Puja on the recommendation of the great saint Dhaumya. It is believed that owing to these rituals not just Draupadi came out of her own life struggles but also played a vital role in helping Pandavas defeat Kauravas and regain their kingdom.
It is also believed that in ancient times, the sages used to perform the rituals and gained energy directly from the Sun. Due to this, they were able to remain alive for longer periods of time without any intake of food.
Another interesting anecdote that describes the historical mention of this Puja ritual is the story of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. As per the story, it is believed that after coming back to Ayodhya and after defeating the demon king, Raavana, Lord Rama and Goddess Sita had kept a fast for each other and offered their prayers to Sun God in the month of Kartik during the time of the former's coronation as King. And since then, Chhath Puja became one of the major festivals in the Hindu religion.
People gather at the banks of river Ganga just when the dawn breaks, to worship the Sun God and to take a bath in the holy waters. The festival involves a lot of fasting and feasting when people pray to God for good wishes and blessings for their loved ones.
Locally, the first day of this festival is also known as ‘Nahaye Khaye’ in which people generally take bath and eat lentils, rice and bottle gourd in their meals. The idea behind the meals being to only eat Sattvic food for internal purification.
The second day is known as ‘Kharna.’ On this day, generally the people do fasting and at night eat the prasadam alone.
The third day of the Chhath Puja is locally known as ‘Sanjh ka Arag’ where people generally offer their prayers to the setting sun.
The fourth day of this festival is known as ‘Bhor Ka Arag.’ Usually, on the fourth day, people wait for the sunrise after which they take a dip into the holy waters of Ganges.
By Road - The city of Bihar is quite well connected via national highways to other nearby and major cities like Delhi, Pune, Jharkhand, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, etc. One can take the following routes to travel via road - NH20, NH52, NH19, NH44, etc.
By Train - The major railway stations of Bihar are Patna, Bhagalpur, and Gaya. Traveling via trains let you explore the geographical topography of a place firsthand. After getting off the trains, you can easily find any means of transportation right outside the station.
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here
2 November 2019
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