Chhath Puja, a vibrant and sacred Hindu festival, holds special significance for millions of people, particularly in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, as well as Nepal. This ancient festival, dedicated to the worship of the sun god, Surya, is observed with deep devotion and unique rituals.
Chhath Puja usually falls in October or November, depending on the Hindu calendar. In 2023, it has fall on November 17 – November 20, spans of four days. The rituals and customs are meticulously followed, creating a sense of unity and spirituality.
The festival kicks off with Nahay Khay, where devotees take a holy dip in a river or water body and prepare a meal using traditional ingredients. On the second day, known as Kharna, devotees observe a strict fast throughout the day, breaking it only in the evening after sunset. The ritual involves preparing kheer (sweet rice porridge) and other traditional dishes, which are then offered to the sun god. The third day is devoted to Sandhya Arghya, the evening offering. Devotees gather at the riverbanks or any water body, carrying offerings such as fruits, sugarcane, and thekua (a special sweet). The final day, Usha Arghya, marks the culmination of Chhath Puja. Devotees wake up before sunrise to offer prayers and make offerings to the rising sun.
Chhath Puja is characterized by its elaborate rituals, including standing in water for long durations, chanting Vedic hymns, and observing a stringent fast.
Beyond its religious aspects, Chhath Puja holds cultural importance, fostering a sense of community and unity. Families and friends come together to support each other during the fasting period, and the rituals are passed down through generations, creating a strong cultural bond.
Chhath Puja is a celebration of life, nature, and spirituality. It is a time when people connect with the divine, express gratitude, and strengthen familial and communal ties. As the sun sets on the final day of the festival in 2023, it leaves behind a sense of fulfillment and a renewed connection between the earthly and the celestial.