Chhath Puja also known as Dala Chhath is a four day festival Hindu festival dedicated to Hindu God Sun or Surya.
It is celebrated from 4th day to 7th day of the Shukla Paksha of the Hindu month Kartika, with the main puja day being the sixth day (Chath tithi) from which the festival gets its name.
In 2015, Chhath Puja will be celebrated from 15 to 18 November 2015.
In Hindu religion, Sun is considered the god of energy and life-force. Sun is also believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
Chhath Puja is performed to thank Sun for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes and to promote well-being, prosperity and progress.
Rituals and Traditions of Chhath Puja :
The rituals of Chhath Puja that are observed over a period of four days include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh to the setting and rising sun.
Day 1 : Nahay khay
Chhath begins with ‘Nahay khay’. On this day devotees take a dip in lake or sea water, preferably in the holy river Ganges, and carry home the water to prepare the offerings. They then clean their homes and Parvaitin (main worshipers) eat only once that day and that food includes kaddu, channa dal, and arwa chawal (non-boiled rice).
Day 2: Kharna or Lohanda
On Panchami, i.e., the day before Chhath, the parvaitins observe a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening a little after the sunset. After worshipping mother earth in evening, parvaitins break their fast by having Rasiao-kheer, puris and bananas, This food is then distributed among family and friends. From this evening onwards, parvaitin goes on a fast without water for the next 36 hours.
Day 3: Chhath (Day of Offering Sanjhiya Arghya)
This is the main day of the Chhath festival. The who day is spent at home preparing the prasad (offerings). In the evening, the entire household accompanies the parvaitins to a riverbank, pond or a common large water body with the Thekuas fruits, etc to make the offerings (Aragh) of milk to the setting sun. During sunset, devotees offer prayers to the just setting sun by chanting Gayatri Mantra. Traditionally during the aragh the parvaitin should be dressed like a bride.
Various folk songs which include Bhojpuri Chhath Puja Songs are sung on the evening of Chhath reflect the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
In the night, a colorful event of Kosi is held wherein lighted earthen lamps are kept under a canopy of five sugarcane sticks. The five sticks signify the human body made of Panchatattva (the five great elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether). This is a symbolic ritual performed in Chhath Puja, especially by those families where marriage or childbirth has taken place recently. The lighted lamps signify the solar energy sustaining the human being.
Day 4: Paarun (Day of Offering Bihaniya Aragh)
On the final day of Chhath Puja, the devotees, along with family and friends, go to the riverbank before sunrise, in order to make the offerings (Aragh) to the rising sun. After making offering to the rising sun, the parvaitin break their fast and then distribute prashad to all friends and family members.