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Chhath Puja which is also known as Chhath Parv or Dala Chhath is a prominent festival in Bihar, Jharkhand and in some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It is a four-day festival that starts with Nahaye Khaye and ends with Doosra Arghya/ Paaran. This year the festival will be celebrated from 31 October 2019 to 3 November 2019. At times you might think the reasons behind why is it celebrated and how old is it, then we are here to tell you the same.
In this article, you will read about the meaning, origins of Chhath Puja and the reasons due to which people celebrate Chhath Puja. Scroll down to read more
The Meaning Of Chhath Puja
The word 'Chhath' in Maithili, Bhojpuri and Nepali languages means 'sixth'. However, the word 'Chhath' is said to be derived from the Sanskrit word 'Shashthi' which means sixth. This denotes the sixth day of Kartik Maas, a month according to the Vikram Samvat (the historical Hindu calendar). Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day of this month and therefore, it is called so.
Chhath Puja is not a gender-specific festival and thus, it can be observed by both men and women. This festival is said to be quite unique and different from other festival celebrated in the Hindu culture.
What Makes Chhath Puja Unique
There are three factors that make Chhath Puja unique.
The first is that it doesn't involve worshipping of any idol. People worship Lord Sun, Usha (sun rays during sunrise), Pratyusha (sun rays during the sunset) and the Ganges (the holy river).
The second thing that makes it unique is how people begin this festival. It starts by worshipping the setting sun. Worshipping the setting sun signifies that one should remember and respect their ancestors. It shows people's gratitude towards their elders for the good things they have done.
The last thing that adds to the uniqueness of Chhath Puja is one can't use something that is not organic, such as plastic, etc. The items used in the festival has to be eco-friendly and organic such as mud utensils, soil stove, baskets made up of bamboo, etc. Also, all the rituals are to to be performed on the banks of the river or other water bodies.
During Chhath Puja, the devotees need to follow cleanliness, purity and honesty. One must not badmouth others. It is said that once Chhath Puja is started, it goes on for years.
Chhath Puja can be skipped only if there is a demise of a family member in that year or a child is born during the Chhath Puja. But it is resumed in the next year. The custom of Chhath Puja should be passed on to the next generation. But, if one stops observing Chhath Puja for reasons other than demise or childbirth, there is a belief that he/she can never resume it and the family can't start it again.
When Was Chhath Puja First Celebrated
The origins of Chhath Puja can be traced back to the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are many stories in these religious texts that tell about how this festival was first celebrated.
According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, when Lord Rama and Goddess Sita returned back to Ayodhya from their 14 years exile, it was decided that Lord Rama will be crowned as the King of Ayodhya. It was then, Lord Rama and Goddess Sita worshipped Lord sun by observing a whole day fast and by standing in the water for a long time. They broke their fast the next day after taking a dip in the water and worshipping the rising sun.
Legend has it that it was Suryaputra (son of Lord Sun) Karn who first initiated the Chhath Puja. It is said that Karn was a devotee of Lord Sun and used to worship Lord Sun every day. He also used to worship Sun on the sixth moon day of Kartik Maas by observing a tough fast which was followed by taking a dip in the water, standing in the river water for a long time and then performing Arghya (water or milk offering) to Lord Sun. He then used to distribute the prasad made by him among the needy. This is said to be later evolved into Chhath Puja.
Another interesting story is about Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas (the five brothers in Mahabharata). She was also said to be an ardent devotee of Lord Sun. During the exile period, she is said to have observed a fast during the Chhath Puja and it was then Lord Sun pleased with her dedication, blessed her with the power of healing any injury or diseases. Due to this power, she was able to heal the injuries of Pandavas during the battle of Mahabharata.
Why Do People Celebrate Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is celebrated to show gratitude to Lord Sun and his wife Usha for fulfilling the wishes of people and for sustaining life on the earth. It is said that Sun is the God of Life- force and energy on the earth and therefore, people pray Lord Sun to shower His blessing on the earth with prosperity and positive energy. Devotees plead Lord Sun to keep their family members and loved ones happy, healthy and safe.
According to ancient saints, celebrating Chhath Puja is associated with healing certain skin diseases. They said that during Chhath Puja the rays emitting from Sun doesn't contain any harmful ultra-violet rays and therefore, performing Chhath Puja helps in gaining medicinal benefits.
The ritual of standing in water and letting one's body exposed to the sun is a great way to absorb vitamin D. Moreover, the prasad (auspicious food) is prepared during the Chhath Puja contains calcium.
We hope you celebrate Chhath Puja with harmony and seek blessings from Lord Sun.
Happy Chhath Puja to everyone!