Chhath Puja is an ancient festival, which is performed as thanks giving to Surya – The Sun God for sustaining life on earth and granting Health and Prosperity by Hindus. As per the Hindu traditions, the God ‘Surya’ is the supreme power which represents will-power, fame, the eyes, general vitality, courage and kingship.
Every year Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day of the Karthika month in the Vikram Samvat. Which also means, it is the sixth day after Diwali. This festival is dedicated to the God Sun. It is one of the most popular festivals in Bihar. It is also celebrated festival in Nepal. Bihar is known for the Chhath Puja.
The word “Chhath” represents the number 6 in Hindi and the festival starts on the sixth day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. Chhath celebrations are held for four days, during this the devotees, mostly women, follow rituals including: 36 hours fast, holy baths in the water at sunrise & sunset, and hsvr to eat food cooked without salt, onion, and garlic.
Traditions of Chhath Puja
During the four days of Chhath Puja, devotees have to perform the worship to thank the God Sun for providing life on earth and seek his blessings and protection. Each day of the Chhath Puja has its own activities and rituals:
- It begins with the day known as Nahay Khay. On this first day, devotees have to take a dip in water and have to take a single meal in a day.
- Second day, known as Kharna or Lohanda, devotees have to be on fast from sunrise to the sunset. After worship of the Sun and the Moon, they can have food. They prepare kheer (a rice pudding), bananas and rice for their family. After eating the offering, devotees have to be on fast for 36 hours without water.
- Day three is known as Sanjhiya Gha or Sandhya Arghya. On this day the devotees offer worship to the sun in evening during sunset.
- On Usha Arghya (Morning Arghya), the last day, the fast is over and after morning offerings, the devotees can have meal.
As per the Hindu tradition, the rays of the sun at sunrise having very importance and have healing properties and can cure disease to ensure the health of family, friends, and elders. Devotees are praying in the morning facing east so that the rays fall on their front.
Significance of Chhath Pooja:
- Chhath Puja is referred to as the Vedic Festival celebrated in Bihar:
Chhath Puja is one of the most ancient Hindu festivals ever surviving on earth. This puja first finds mention in the Rig Veda which contains hymns worshiping the Sun God and describes similar rituals.
- Chhath Puja hails back to the time of the Mahabharata:
It is believed that Surya Putra Karna who was the first to start this puja. According to the legends, Karna, Son of Surya and Ruler of Anga-Desh (Now Bhagalpur in Bihar) observed Chhath Puja or Surya Shashti with sheer devotion. It is said that Karna had gained supreme powers by performing Chhath rituals. This had made Karna grow into a powerful and valiant warrior.
Legends of Draupadi:
It is believed that Draupadi was an ardent devotee of Lord Surya. Due to her devotion toward Surya, she was gifted with the unique power to cure even the most deadly diseases. This power and energy of Draupadi helped Pandavas to survive and win the Battle of Kurukshtera and eventually regain their lost kingdom.
Another such legend associated with Draupadi is that, once during the long exile from their kingdom, 88 thousand wandering hermits visited their hut. Being devout Hindus, the Pandavas were obliged to feed the monks. But as exiles, the Pandavas were not in a position to offer food to so many hungry hermits. Seeking a quick solution, Draupadi approached Saint Dhaumya, who advised her to worship Surya and observe the rituals of the Chhath for prosperity and abundance. Through her worship of the Sun God, Draupadi was not only able to solve her immediate problems, but also helped the Pandavas later regain their lost kingdom.
- All the rituals of the festival have some scientific reasons to back them:
The Science and Yogic Philosophy behind Chhath in fact date back to the Vedic times. According to yogic philosophy, the physical bodies of all the living organisms are highly sophisticated energy conducting channels. The solar bio-electricity starts flowing in the human body when it is exposed to solar radiations of specific wavelengths. Under particular physical and mental conditions, the absorption and conduction of this solar-bio-electricity increases. The processes and the rituals of the Chhath puja aim at preparing the body and the mind of the Vratti (devotee) for the process of cosmic solar energy infusion. The rishis of yore used this method to remain without any external intake of food as they were able to obtain energy directly from the sun’s rays.
- Chhath Rituals are designed around the optimum absorption of Vitamin-D and Calcium into the Body:
Sun worship in Kartik month allows absorption of Vitamin D (essential for the absorption of calcium and the prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults) from UVB rays which are predominant at sunset and sunrise. The Vitamin D is then responsible for absorbing calcium from the food (All the food items used in this pooja are high in calcium). The fasting state of the worshippers also aids in natural calcium absorption from the food ingested. However, patients with compromised kidneys should not do this fast.
- The puja helps to improve the immunity of the human body, provides an antiseptic effect to the body of the devotee and speeds up the healing process:
The rituals help the flow of blood and stimulate a balanced secretion of the hormones for proper functioning of the body. The significance of the worship of the Sun God, during the periods of sunrise and sunset lies in the fact that human beings can obtain optimum energy from the sun during these periods and safely harness it. The retina of the human eye is a photoelectric material, emitting energy when exposed to light. This energy is sent to the pineal gland and it harnesses the energy to activate itself. This energy generated starts having an impact on the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, owing to its close proximity to the glands. This ensures good health to the worshipers. Moreover, the ritual of fasting ensures detoxification of the human body and mind and prepares the body to receive cosmic energy!
- During the four days of the Chhath puja, the body functioning is heightened. The mental benefits range from calming the mind of the devotees to the reduction of negative feelings and emotions, like jealousy, hatred, fear and anger:
Standing in the water of the river allows the energy absorbed from the Sun to move along the spine, cleansing the human body. A kind of polarization in the spine helps the body to be transformed into a comic energy powerhouse and the body of the devotee or Vratti becomes a medium for the conduction, transmission and distribution of energy to the entire universe. During the four days of the Chhath puja, the body functioning is heightened and a change takes place in the system. The festivals also help build up the strong foreground of intuition and telepathy.
- This tradition of worshipping Sun God (As in Chhath), the sustainer of life on earth was also prevalent in the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations of the world:
The international significance of Chhath Puja can also be seen in the fact that the celebrations of Chhat Puja are not limited to our country and is also celebrated in countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago etc. as a part of their own traditions & customs.
Wishing You and Your Family Happy Chhat Puja!