Chhath, also known as Dala Chhath is an important festival celebrated in Bihar and many other parts of India in which setting Sun (dawn) is worshiped . Although Bihar celebrates Chhath most elaborately it is also followed in some parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam, Mauritius, mainly among the Bhojpuri and Maithali speaking people. Chhath is also important for Nepalese worshippers of god as well as in eastern Uttar Pradesh.The best place to witness Chhath would be around Northern Bihar where it is celebrated in great grandeur. The festival is observed and in Bihar since time immemorial with the constant faith that the Sun God fulfils wishes if ‘araghya’ is offered with complete dedication and devotion. Chhath is not just a physical attachment to the people of Bihar, it is also present in their hearts, and this is why the people bring wherever they have migrated. Nowadays it can be easily seen at the ghats of Yamuna in Delhi and other parts of India indicating its presence across the country.
The festival is with an aim to express thanks to Sun God for offering energy to earth continuously enabling the environment suitable for the people to live.
In the evening arghya people express their thanks to Sun God for its work in growing their crops during the preceding year and morning arghya is considered as a request for a bountiful crop, peace and prosperity in the year to come.
Devotees assemble at the ghats at rivers and ponds including Ganges and take a holy dip before preparing offerings (Prasad). The main constituent of the offerings are Thekua, which is a wheat based cake.
During the , offerings are contained in small, semicircular pans woven out of bamboo strips called soop.
Chhath is a Hindu festival but many muslim families also participates in this holy festival.
Chhath is also called ‘Suryasasthi’ as it observed after the six days of Diwali, the festival of light. Chhath takes place during 6th day (Shasthi) lunar fortnight of Kartik month. lasts for four days. There is also a “Chaiti Chhath” just after Holi during Chaitra Navratri in the month of Chaitra (March last to mid April).
In 2014, the festivity for Chhath puja on Wednesday, the 29th October.
First Day of Chhath Puja: Nahai Khai Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat)
The first day of the puja is known as Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat), the Vrati (devotees) take a bath preferably in sacred river Ganga and bring the holy water to cook offerings (Prasad) at home.
Second Day of Chhath Puja: Kharna
A whole day fast (without water) is observed by the vratis (devotees). The vratis end their fast in the evening after performing puja. Offerings (Prasad) are comprises of Rasiao-kheer (rice delicacy), puris (deep-fried puffs of wheat flour) or chapatti and bananas – are distributed among family, friends and visitors.
Third Day of Chhath Puja: Chhat Sandhya Argh (Chhat Dala Evening puja)Devotees observe fast without consuming water. The whole day is spent in preparing puja offerings. All the offerings are kept in tray made up of bamboo. Offerings comprises of Thekua, coconut, banana and other seasonal fruits.
The evening ritual is performed at the banks of river or pond or any clean water body. All the devotees, family, friends and visitors assemble their and the agrahya is offered to the setting Sun. ‘Kosi’ – One of the most charming events during Chhath Puja known as ‘Kosi’ is celebrated at the courtyard of the house after evening offerings. Lightened earthen lamps (diyas) are kept beneath the covering of five sugarcane sticks or 24 sticks (as per local tradition). The same event also takes place at the ghats in the early morning before morning offerings (arghyas).
Fourth Day of Chhath Puja: Chhath Suryodaya Argh (Chhath Dala Morning puja) This is the last and final event of the auspicious puja, the devotees again with their family, friends and relatives assemble on the bank of river or pond to offer arghyas (offerings) to the rising Sun. After performing arghyas devotees break their fast. Ginger and Sugar are used by devotees to break their fast (as per local tradition).
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