Chhath Puja is a four-day festival celebrated in the remembrance of the Sun god, the source of energy. This year, Chhath Puja will be celebrated from October 31 to November 3. The Chhath Puja begins with Nahay Khay, followed by Lohanda and Kharna, Sandhya Argh and Suryodaya. On Chhath Puja, women perform the morning puja by standing in a water body and offering water to the Sun and Chhathi Maiyya, believed to be Sun's sister. They keep fast for the well-being of their children. Childless couples also worship Goddess Katyayani, one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga on Chhath Puja, and pray for a child. Chathh Puja is celebrated in Bihar, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Chhath Puja symbolises purity.
Know the Chhath Puja dates, days and rituals:
October 31, 2019: Nahay-Khay
The first day of Chhath Puja is called Nahay Khay. On this day, the devotees take bath in the river, pond, or any other water body, clean their home and nearby compound and take meal only once a day. The meal is prepared without any contamination and when it is ready, first the person who keeps the fast eats it, followed by other members of the family.
November 1, 2019: Lohanda and Kharna
On this day, devotees wear new clothes and fast for about 8-12 hours. They offer prayer to Sun god and then eat special sweets like kheer made from sugarcane juice and thekua-gujiya. The prasad is distributed among everyone on banana leaves after the puja.
November 2, 2019: Sandhya Argh
Sandhya Argh, also called Sanjhiya Ghat is an evening offering. The whole day is spent resting and preparing offerings at home. A daura or a basket made of bamboo sticks is also prepared and all the offerings including thekua and seasonal fruits are added into it. In the evening, the devotees gather at the bank of the river, pond or a reservoir to perform the puja. Folk songs are sung while offering prayers to the Sun God.
November 3, 2019: Suryodaya/Usha Argh and Paran
The offering given to the Sun God in the morning is called Bihaniya Arghya or morning offering.
Water is offered to Sun God on this day as they sing and worship Chhati Maiya. After morning offerings, the devotee distributes prasad among each other and take blessings from elders.
The first sun ray is called Usha and last sun ray is called Pratyusha. Both these sunrays are considered auspicious and worshipped during Chhath Puja.
Sunrise on Chhath Puja: November 2, 6: 33 am
Sunset on Chhath Puja: November 2, 5:36 pm
Offerings in Chhath Puja Thaali:
Chhath Puja thaali must have the following six items:
- Water Chestnuts (Singhara)
- Betel nuts
Chhath Puja special food:
During food preparation in Chhath Puja; salt, garlic or onions are not used. Special foods include thekua - made up from flour, dry fruits, ghee and sugar; rice kheer - made of rice, milk, water, jaggery and dry fruits, pumpkin dish; kasaar- made of rice powder, anise, ghee and jaggery; puris - a deep fried bread and green grams.
Benefits of Chhath Puja:
Apart from it being an eco-friendly festival, Chhath Puja is beneficial for the body too. It is believed that when devotees offer water to the sun, the spectrum of sun-rays refracts through the water impacting the devotees positively from head to toe. This process helps in increasing intellectual wellness, eye-sight and digestion. It helps in curing skin diseases too. The morning sun rays are a great source of Vitamin D and also a rich source of anti-bacterial energy.