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Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja also called Dala Puja is a Hindu festival popular in the Northern and Eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand and even Nepal. The word ‘Chhath’ has its origin in ‘sixth’ as it is celebrated on the 6th day or ‘Shasthi’ of the lunar fortnight of Kartik (October – November) in theHindu calendar – six days after Diwali, the festival of lights.

A Ritual Dedicated to Sun God

Chhath is mainly characterized by riverside rituals in which the Sun God or Surya is worshiped, giving it the name of ‘Suryasasthi.’ It underpins the ever so scientific belief that the Sun God fulfills every wish of earthlings and so it’s our duty to thank the sun with a special prayer for making our planet go round and bestowing living beings with the gift of life. The ghats or riverbanks throng with devotees as they come to complete their ritual worship or ‘arghya’ of the sun – both at dawn and dusk. The morning ‘arghya’ is a prayer for a good harvest, peace and prosperity in the new yearand the evening ‘arghya’ is an expression of thanks to the benevolence of the Sun God for all that he has bestowed during the year gone by.

How Chhath is Celebrated

Chhath can well be regarded as the state festival of Bihar, where it goes on for four days. Outside of India, Chhath is mainly among celebrated by the Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking community apart from the Nepalese Hindus. It assumes a joyous and colorful form as people dress up in their best clothes and gather by rivers and other water bodies to celebrate Chhath. Many devotees take a holy dip at dawn before preparing the ritual offerings or ‘prasad,’ which mainly comprising ‘Thekua,’ a hard and crude but tasty wheat-based cake usually cooked on traditional earthen ovens called ‘chulhas.’ The divine offerings are placed on circular trays woven out of bamboo strips called ‘dala’ or ‘soop.’ Women adorn new clothes, light lamps and sing devotional folk songs in honor of ‘Chhat Maiya’ or the holy river Ganga. After sunset, devotees return home to celebrate ‘Kosi’ when earthen lamps or ‘diyas’ are lit in the courtyard of the house and kept beneath a bower of sugarcane sticks. Serious devotees maintain a strict anhydrous fast of three days.

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