Chhath Puja is a festival of rituals and celebrations. This ritual is religiously carried on every year in the northern states of India since times immemorial. Chhath Puja is a demonstration of gratitude towards the Sun God, considered God of Energy and of the life-force. It is a festival of penance and prayers. The festival is special because prayers are offered to the setting sun and the rising sun, which is symbolic of death and rebirth. Not only Sun God is expected to bestow the worshippers with prosperity, progress and well-being, it is also said to cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends and elders.
During these days, celebrations take place in almost all the metros of India with similar spirits. In Patna, the festival is celebrated on the banks of pious River Ganges, while in Delhi; the festival takes place on the banks of River Yamuna. People propose offerings to the solar deity with open arms. The atmosphere becomes enchanting with the lines of earthen lamps floating on the evening waters of the rivers. Unlike the other festivals that require priest to sanctify the ceremony, Chhath Puja is a personal celebration and does not require a priest. However, given the fact, it should not be thought that following the rituals of Chhath is easy. In fact, the rituals which are followed are quite tough and need innate courage and will power. The four days of Chhath are celebrated with non-violence, forgiveness and compassion.
The four days of festival are divided on the base of the rituals that are followed on the particular day. The first day is devoted to cleansing hence the devotees go to any of the major rivers in their city/state, and take a dip in the holy water of the river. They also bring with them little containers filled water to prepare Prasad. The second day is reserved for fasting and worshiping the Sun God. The main fast starts from this particular day after the sunset. On the third day, the Parvaitin, along with the family members, leave for the pond/river where the Chhath Puja is supposed to be organized. The Parvaitin performs the sacred rites and folk songs are sung by the crowd.
Though now days the folk songs are replaced by remixed Bollywood numbers, the crowd still seems to enjoy the atmosphere of celebration created by those songs. On the final day of Chhath Puja, the Parvaitins and their family members reach the river bank before dawn and start worshipping the Sun God during sunrise. After this, celebrations take a further leap as people are engaged in wishing each other the goodness of the festival. The Parvaitin breaks bread with the family and the Prasad is distributed among friends and family and the. With this the festival comes to an end. In short it can be said that Chhath Puja festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in northern India and forwards just the right mix of religious rites and extravagant celebrations.