Chhath Puja is an age-old Hindu festival which is dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiya, who is known to be the sister of Lord Surya. This festival is unique to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and the country of Nepal. It’s the only festival that is dedicated to Lord Surya, who is supposed to be the source of all powers. The God of light, life force and energy is worshipped in order to promote well-being, development and the prosperity of human beings. Devotees express their gratitude towards Lord Surya and perform important rituals over a for a span of four days. People who observe the fast during this festival are called Vrati.
In both Nepali and Hindi languages, the word Chhath means six. And hence, this festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika. Therefore, the festival is named Chhath.
Stories behind celebrating Chhath Puja:
It is believed that Chhath Puja may even predate the ancient Vedas texts, as the Rigveda contains hymns worshipping the Sun God. Also, there are many references to the rituals in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
- In Mahabharata, Draupadi and the Pandavas perform the Chhath rituals (worshipping Sun God) on the advice of noble sage Dhaumya in order to regain their lost kingdom, Indraprastha (modern Delhi).
- Some people believe that Surya Putra Karna first started the Chhath Puja as he was the son of Sun God Surya.
- Another mythological story behind celebrating Chhath Puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that Lord Rama of Ayodhya and Sita of Mithila had kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.
- This festival has another interesting history. A long time ago, sages used to refrain from any intake of food and channelize the energy of the sun towards them and survive.
Worship of Chhathi Maiya:
Goddess Chhathi Maiya is worshipped during Chhath Puja along with Surya (Sun God). She is also known as Usha in the Vedas. She is considered to be the beloved younger wife of Surya. Literally, Usha in Engish translates to Dawn. This festival signifies both the rising sun as well as the setting sun. Rituals and Traditions of Chhath Puja:
It is a four-day festival usually celebrated four days after Diwali.
The ritual of Chhath Puja includes taking the holy bath, fasting, standing and worshipping the sun for a long time and offering Prasad and Arghya to ‘Rising and setting Lord Surya”. Some worshipers observe fasting even without water for 36 hours continuously. Devotees during this period observe purity and live frugally. They sleep on the floor on a single blanket.
1. Nahay Khay – First Day:
Nahay Khay means bath and eat. On the first day of Chhath Puja, devotees take a dip in the river Kosi, Karnali or Ganga whichever is near to their residence and bring home the holy water from these rivers to prepare the offerings. The house and surroundings are fully cleaned. The devotees observing fast (Vrata) are called Vratin or Parvaitin only takes one meal on this day. This meal is called as kaddu-bhat cooked only by using the bronze or soil utensils and mango woods over the soil stove.
2. Lohanda and Kharna (Argasan) – Second Day:
On the second day of Chhath Puja, the devotees keep fast for the whole day and break their fast in the evening after sunset after the worship of Sun. After taking the meal in the evening, they go on a fast without water for the next 36 hours.
3. Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings) – Third Day:
On this day devotees prepare prasad (offerings) at home. After preparing the prasad, on the eve of this day, the Vratins make the offerings to the just setting sun at the riverbank, pond or a common large water body. They are accompanied by their friends and family and numerous other participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshipper. At the night of Chhath, a vibrant event of Kosi is celebrated by lighting the lamps of clay diyas under the covering of five sugarcane sticks. The five sugarcane sticks indicate the Panchatattva (earth, water, fire, air, and space) that the human body made of Panchatattva.
4. Usha Arghya (morning offerings) – Fourth Day:
On the fourth and final day, the devotees along with family and friends, go to the riverbank before sunrise, in order to make the offerings (Arghya) to the rising sun. The festival ends with breaking of the fast by the Vratins by having Chhath prasad.
Stages of Chhath (Conscious Photoenergization Process):
According to Yoga philosophy, the process of Chhath is divided into six stages of the Conscious Cosmic Solar Energy Infusion Technique (Conscious Photoenergization Process).
1st Stage: Fasting and the discipline of cleanliness lead to detoxification of the body and mind. This stage prepares the body and mind of the Vratti (devotee) to receive the cosmic solar energy.
2nd Stage: Standing in a water body with half the body (navel deep) in the water minimizes the leak of energy and helps the prana (psychic energy) to move up the Sushumna (psychic channel in the spine).
3rd Stage: Then the entrance of cosmic solar energy takes place in the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands (known as the Triveni complex) by the retina and optic nerves.
4th Stage: In the 4th stage Triveni complex gets activated.
5th Stage: After activation of the Triveni complex, the spine gets polarized and the body of devotee gets transformed into a cosmic powerhouse and gets the Kundalini Shakti.
6th Stage: The body of the Vratti (devotee) becomes a channel that conducts, recycles and transmits the energy into the entire universe.
The significance of Chhath Puja:
Chhath puja has a special significance during the Sunrise and Sunset periods. Sunrise and sunset are the most important periods of the day during which a human body can safely get solar energy without any harm. That is the reason why on third and fourth, devotees make offering when the sun is just setting and just rising, respectively.
During this period the solar energy has a low level of ultraviolet radiations so it is safe for the human body. The ritual of Chhath puja provides mental calmness (by detoxifying the body and mind), enhances the energy level and immunity reduces the frequency of anger, jealous as well as a lot of negative emotions.
It is also believed that following the Chhath processes helps in slowing down the aging process.