How Chhath Puja is Celebrated

How Chhath Puja is Celebrated

Chhath Puja 2023
Chhath Puja Arag Time Today 2023

Chhath Puja: Celebrating the Sun God

Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the solar deity, and is observed with much fervor and gaiety in parts of north and eastern India. Here is an overview of how this festival is celebrated over the course of 4 days:

Day 1 - Nahay Khay

The first day of Chhath Puja is known as Nahay Khay. On this day, people taking part in the puja wake up before sunrise, take a holy dip in rivers or other water bodies, and carry home the holy water to prepare prasad. The main prasad is kheer (rice pudding), which is made by cooking rice with milk and jaggery. Along with kheer, they also prepare offerings of seasonal fruits.

nahay khay chhath puja 2023
Nahay Khay Date in bihar 2023

People observe a fast for the whole day and eat only after sunset. The prasad prepared is first offered to the Sun God as naivedya before the fasters can eat it. It is believed that strict fasting on this day purifies the body and prepares one for the main ritual.

Day 2 - Kharna

The second day is Kharna, during which people maintain the fast from the previous day and eat only one meal after sunset consisting of kheer, puri, fruits, and chapatis. Devotees offer arghya at sunset - offering water and milk to the setting sun.

kharna 2023 date and time
Kharna Date in 2023

While eating the prasad and breaking their fast, devotees also worship Chhathi Maiya (consort of Surya) and seek her blessings. The day signifies the last meal before the 36-hour long fast and vigil on the next two days.

Day 3 - Sandhya Arghya

On the third day, devotees observe a 36-hour fast starting from the second day's sunset. During the morning and evening, they offer arghya - offering water and milk - to the rising and setting sun respectively.

sandhya puja 2023 Date Time and Significance
Sandhya Arghya Ki Shubhkamnaye

The evening arghya is known as Sandhya Arghya and is the most important ritual of the Chhath festival. Devotees wear ceremonial clothing and assemble at the riverbanks or other water bodies. The women carry the prasad in bamboo baskets on their heads while the men accompany them carrying lamps.

The prasad mainly consists of sweets, kheer, thekua (dry sweet), fruits, and special delicacies made from sugarcane called rasiao. While fasting, devotees sing folk songs dedicated to the Sun God and Chhathi Maiya.

Day 4 - Usha Arghya

On the final day, devotees offer Usha Arghya - the morning arghya to the rising sun. They break their fast by eating the prasad and drinking the holy water.

Chhath Puja calendar 2023: Nahaye Khaye to Usha Arghya; know all about the 4 days of Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja Usha Arghya Time 2023

The rigor of the fast and the elaborate rituals spanning over 4 days highlight the devotees' unwavering faith in the powers of Surya. The festival also emphasizes the divine connection between the Sun God and his beloved consort Chhathi Maiya who is invoked for her blessings.

Chhath Celebrations

Chhath is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Kartik - which corresponds to October or November as per the Gregorian calendar. It is mainly observed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, and also in Nepal.

On this festival, married women take the lead in observing the rituals for the well-being and prosperity of their families. They also include the participation of daughters and daughters-in-law. The elaborate rituals are conducted with precision and passed down generations as a shared tradition.

Here are some of the ways Chhath is celebrated:

  • Decorating Homes - Houses are cleaned and decorated with traditional motifs using rice flour and vermillion. Even temporary thatched huts are made near water bodies for the 4-day celebration.
  • Wearing Symbolic Colors - Women wear saris and chunris of colors like green, red, and yellow as they are considered auspicious. While green symbolizes new beginnings, red stands for marriage, love, and fertility.
  • Singing Folk Songs - Women sing special folk songs, chant shlokas (hymns), and perform rituals in sync. The songs eulogize the powers of the Sun God and seek his blessings.
  • Offering Prasad - The prasad cooked over days and offered to the sun include sweets, fruits, kheer, and thekua which are later consumed by families.
  • Lighting Lamps and Candles - Earthen lamps are lit and placed near water and later floated across rivers and ponds while sending prayers.
  • Community Celebration - Chhath transcends caste, class, and social barriers as everyone participates passionately. It reinforces a strong sense of community bonding.
  • Following Rigorous Rituals - Strict adherence to rituals like fasting, not drinking water, and standing in water signifies the devotees' sincere devotion and perseverance.

Chhath signifies the faith of devotees seeking health, happiness, and prosperity of families from Soorya and Chhathi Maiya. The elaborate rituals serve as a way of expressing gratitude to the forces of nature. It is therefore celebrated with much gusto every year during this time of the year.

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