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 gathering at the banks of the holy river, Ganges. There, they take a dip in the holy waters and offer their prayers to God while performing important rituals of 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.
While Chhath Puja is primarily a festival of Bihar, it is also celebrated in various other Indian states too 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. In 2021, Chhath Puja will be observed on November 10.
Although the festival of Chhath Puja is majorly observed by the females of a household and doesn't include any kind of idol worship, 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 actually 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 signature dishes of Bihar in their home such as sweets, kheer, thekua, rice laddu which they use as prasad. This prasad is normally offered in small winnows which are made of bamboos.
Apart from the prasad, even regular food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without the 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 that excessively praise 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 stated in these scriptures 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 overcame the struggles in her life 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 these rituals and gained energy directly from the Sun. Due to this, they were able to remain alive for a longer period 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 kept a fast for each other.
While fasting, they offered their prayers to Sun God in the month of Kartik during the time of the former's coronation as King. 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 while people pray to God for a good life and blessings for their loved ones.
First Day. 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.
Second Day. Also known as Kharna, on this day, generally, people observe fasting and, at night, eat the prasad.
Third Day. Chhath Puja is locally known as Sanjh ka Arag where people generally offer their prayers to the setting sun.
Fourth Day. This one is also known as Bhor Ka Arag. Usually, on the fourth day of Chhath Puja, people wait for sunrise after which they take a dip into the holy waters of Ganges and purify themselves.
Bihar portrays perfectly the religious side of India and if you are interested in witnessing the same then you ought to visit this beautiful place. Bihar is located at a distance of 1,166, 1,892, 496, and 2,151 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. To reach here you can consider the following routes:
By Air. Bihar has good overall connectivity when it comes to air routes. The two noted airports of Bihar are Jayaprakash Narayan Airport (PAT) of Patna and Bodhgaya Airport (GAY) of Gaya, situated at an approximate distance of 90 km and 60-90 km respectively from the city center.
While both the airports are apt to reach Bihar, the major airport is considered to be the Jayaprakash Narayan Airport. It is located in Patna and is considered as the 16th busiest airport. In the current time, this airport is undergoing some infrastructural changes which are due for completion by 2021.
Airlines like IndiGo, Air India, Go Air, and Vistara operate to and fro this airport at a good frequency connecting cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Nagpur, Kolkata. After you deboard at the airport, you can easily find means of public transport like a cab, auto or a bus to reach your desired destination.
By Road. The city of Bihar is quite well connected via national highways to other nearby and major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Chhatisgarh, Bhubaneshwar, and Kanpur. Here are the routes you can take to reach Bihar from the following cities.
From Delhi via Agra-Lucknow Expressway or NH27
From Lucknow via NH27
From Chattisgarh via NH53
From Bhubaneshwar via NH20
From Kanpur via NH19
You can also consider traveling via interstate buses as well, as Bihar State Transport Development Corporation aka BSTDC operates to and fro, offering good options for tourists and locals to explore as a tourist.
By Train. Depending on your location you can conveniently travel to Bihar via train routes. Some major railway stations of Bihar are Patna, Bhagalpur and Gaya. Travelling via trains let you explore the geographical topography of a place firsthand. After getting off the train, you can easily find some means of transport right outside the station. Check out a few trains you can board to get there.
RJPB Rajdhani Express from New Delhi Railway Station
HW HWH SF Express from Lucknow Charbagh Railway Station
PNBE JANSHATABDI from Ranchi Junction
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here