Celebrating Chhat Puja: Honoring the Sun God and Embracing Nature's Blessings
Chhat Puja, also known as Chhath Parv or Surya Shashti, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated with immense joy and devotion. This four-day long festival is dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, Surya, and his consort, Usha. It is primarily observed by people from the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and certain regions of Nepal. Chhat Puja holds immense cultural and spiritual significance, offering devotees an opportunity to express gratitude for the Sun's life-giving energy and the blessings of nature.
Day 1: Nahay Khay – The Purifying Bath: The festivities commence on the first day with Nahay Khay, which translates to "bathing and eating." Devotees wake up before sunrise and head to the nearest river or water body to take a holy dip, a ritual believed to cleanse the body and soul. Afterward, they prepare a pure vegetarian meal and consume it only after offering it to the Sun God.
Day 2: Lohanda and Kharna – Fasting and Preparing Offerings: On the second day, devotees observe a strict fast known as Lohanda, which lasts for the entire day and continues until the next morning. In the evening, they prepare a traditional delicacy called kheer, made from rice, jaggery, and milk. This sweet dish is then offered to the Sun God along with fruits and other homemade preparations. Family and friends come together to celebrate and partake in the prasad (blessed food) after performing the evening rituals.
Day 3: Sandhya Arghya – Offering Prayers to the Setting Sun: The third day, also known as Sandhya Arghya, is the most significant day of Chhat Puja. Devotees gather on the banks of rivers, ponds, or other water bodies to offer prayers and make offerings to the setting sun. The rituals include standing waist-deep in water, facing the setting sun, and reciting ancient hymns and prayers. They seek blessings for their families, prosperity, and well-being.
Day 4: Usha Arghya – Welcoming the Rising Sun: The final day of Chhat Puja, known as Usha Arghya, is when devotees offer prayers to the rising sun. Similar to the previous day, they perform the rituals by standing waist-deep in water and offering prayers to the sun as it emerges on the horizon. After this, the fast is concluded, and devotees break their fast by sharing the prasad with family, friends, and neighbors.