Chhath Puja, India

Chhath Puja is an age-old festival of the Hindus in the region of Bihar, Jharkhand and neighbouring areas. This auspicious ceremony is devoted to the Sun god and his consort Usha for showering with the countless bounties of life and for conceding the wishes of the people. It is often considered the most environment-friendly festivals celebrated by the Hindus as it does not involve any idol worshipping. The detailed and demanding rituals of Chhath Puja take a period of four days to complete.

It is presumed that the festival goes back to the Vedic times as the rituals enacted are analogous to those of the Rig Veda. It is also believed that Lord Rama and Sita had performed this Puja after their return to Ayodhya from the 14 years’ exile in the month of Kartika. Since then it has become an important Hindu festival which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and eagerness every year.

Chhath is observed by devotees after Diwali. The four-day ceremonies start with the Nahay Khay when the adherents take a bath in the holy waters of Kosi, Ganga or Karnali and take back the water for offerings. The second day is known as the Lohanda and on this day, devotees keep a fast till sunset and after offering prayers to the Sun and the Moon, they concoct meals of kheer, rice, sweets, bananas and thekua. After consuming the Prasad, they again fast for 36 hours straight. After having the Prasad, they take a dip in the holy rivers and again worship the Sun and Chhathi maiyya. Thereafter, they perform the evening offerings or Sandhya Arghya amidst folk presentations. On the final day, the Usha Arghya is performed to the Sun resulting which the fast is broken.

During the festival, the devotees lead a very abstemious life, sleep on the ground or on a blanket and do not use their beds. According to the Hindus, the Sun keeps diseases away and ensures longevity, prosperity, happiness and health. They pray for the well-being of their families and friends and celebrate the festival harmoniously.

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