An important and popular Hindu ritual followed since times immemorial, Chhath Puja is observed on the sixth day after Diwali by the people of Bihar and Jharkhand in India and in the Terai Region of Nepal. Though this ritual is unique to Bihar and Jharkhand, Chhath Puja is also observed in parts of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Mauritius, particularly by the Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking devotees. It is a festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, known as Surya or Surya Shashti. The festival is celebrated across four days in the month of Kartik through fasting. Chhath fasting, also referred to as Chhath Vrat, Surya Shashti or Dala Chhath Vrat, forms the major part of the celebrations. Continue reading to know more about Chhath Puja Vrat and how it is observed.
How To Observe Dala Chhath Vrat
Dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire) and Lord Kartikeya or Muruga, Chahth vrat is undertaken for good health and well being of the family. Most people commonly believe that the observance of Chhath vrat fulfills their wishes and desires. Some even consider observing the fast and worshipping Lord Surya helps in curing deadly diseases, like leprosy, while ensuring that the family lives long and prospers. Though the fast is mostly observed by women, men too join the rituals and fast in some places.
The rituals of Chhath Puja generally consist of fasting, folklores and hymns with somber hues on the banks of celestial Ganges or any other fresh water body. During the four-day observation of Chhath Puja, the vrat is followed from the second day until the fourth. The fast or upvaas, known as Kharna, starts from sunrise and is broken in the evening. Puja is performed and the deities are offered with kheer, sweets and fruits. This forms the ‘prasad’ which is shared amongst all family members. Thereafter, another fast begins that continues for 36 hours till the fourth day of Chhath Puja. This fast is observed without even drinking a single drop of water.
On the morning of the fourth day, the devotees start moving towards River Ganges before sunrise. The sun is then welcomed with folded hands. Offerings, such as sandalwood, vermillion, rice and fruits covered in saffron colored cotton cloth are made to Lord Surya. They perform the Chhath Sooryodaya Argh and chant mantras and hymns from the Rig Veda. The rituals carried out on the third day evening are repeated to honor the sun. The offerings left are shared by the family as Prasad and the fast is broken. This marks the end of the Chhath Puja and vrat.