CHHATH PUJA: IN BIHAR
One of the biggest festivals for the North Indian state of Bihar, Jharkhand and certain regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal, Chhath Puja rituals start from Kartika month of the fourth day and ends on Kartika month of the seventh day.
The festival has its own historical significance, bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad & prayers and Arghya to the setting and rising sun. It has been claimed that Chhath is the most eco-friendly Hindu festival.
How Chhath Puja started:
Stories behind celebrating Chhath Puja:
It is supposed that Chhath Puja may even antedate the ancient Vedas texts, as the Rigveda contains hymns worshipping the Sun God. Also, there are various situations in the rituals in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
1. In Mahabharata, Draupadi and the Pandavas perform the Chhath rituals by worshipping Lord Sun on the advice of honorable sage Dhaumya in order to recover their lost kingdom, Indraprastha (which is one of the famous places in Delhi).
2. Some people also say that Karna, Surya Putra was the first one who started the Chhath Puja as he was the son of Sun God Surya.
3. Another story behind celebrating Chhath Puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that Lord Rama of Ayodhya and Sita of Mithila had kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of vanwas.
But the major story which I know is :
According to Chhath Puja Katha, there was a king called Priyavrat who was not having any child. Then Maharishi Kashyap had suggested the king to do Yagya and told his wife Malini to eat the prasad in the form of KHEER. Because of this, they got blessed with a baby but she gave birth to a dead child. When the king went to the graveyard for rituals, he was so saddened that he decided to finish his life also. At that time there came a Goddess named Devsena who is commonly known as Goddess Khasthi, she said if someone would offer puja to me with the pure mind he will be blessed with a child. King Priyavrat did the same and later blessed with a very beautiful child. Since then, people started celebrating the Chhath puja.
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS
The key worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning ‘occasion’ or ‘festival’), are usually women. Even a large number of men also celebrate this festival as Chhath is not a gender-specific festival. The parvaitin pray for the welfare of their family, and for the success of their offsprings. Once a family member starts performing Chhath Puja, it is their compulsory duty to perform it every year and to pass it on to the next generations. The festival takes place for 4 days starting from Kartika Shukla Chaturthi and ends on Kartika Shukla Saptami. During this phase of time parvaitin fasts for almost 36 hours without even water.
It is the first day of Chhath Puja, falls on Kartika Shukla Chaturthi. The parvaitin/ vratin take a dip, in the river Kosi, Karnali and Ganga, and carry the holy water of these historical rivers to home to prepare the food. The house and environment are carefully cleaned. The parvaitin/ vratin allow themselves only one meal on this day. The main food cooked on this day is Chane ki daal, Rice and Kaddu ki sabzi.
Kharna or Lohanda
This is the second day of Chhath Puja, Kartika Shukla Panchami, the parvaitin/Vratins witness a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening after sunset. After worshiping the sun and moon, parvaitin will have Kheer (Made of milk and jaggery) along with Roti wrapped in Ghee or Puris (deep fried puffs) of wheat flour. Once they are done, prasad is distributed among family members, friends, and neighbors. The Parvaitin goes on a fast without water for the next 36 hours.
Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings) – Third Day:
This is the third day of Chhath Puja, Kartika Shukla Shashthi.This day devotees prepare prasad at home. The main prasad of this puja is Thekuwa and Kasar which is made at home by Vrati and other family members. Thekuwa is made of jaggery and wheat flour whereas kasar is made of gaggery and rice flour. After all these preparations, parvaitin keep everything in bamboo soop and get ready to go riverbank, pond or common water body to make offerings to setting sun.
They are attended by their friends and family. At the night of Chhath, a lively event of Kosi is celebrated by lighting the lamps of clay diyas under the covering of five sugarcane sticks.
The five sugarcane sticks indicate the Panchatattva (earth, water, fire, air, and space) that the human body made of Panchatattva.
Usha Arghya (morning offerings) – Fourth Day:
This is the final day of Chhath Puja, Kartika Shukla Saptami. The devotees or parvaitin, along with family and friends, go to the riverbank just like the last day before sunrise, in order to make the offerings (Arghya) to the rising sun. The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the Vratins. Friends and relatives visit the houses of the devotees to receive the prashad.
The implication of Chhath Puja:
Chhath puja has a distinct significance during the Sunrise and Sunset periods. Sunrise and sunset are the most significant periods of the day during which a human body can securely get solar energy without any harm.
Because of this reason, devotees make an offering on the third and fourth day when the sun is just setting and just rising, respectively.
During this period the solar energy has a low level of ultraviolet radiations so it is safe for the human body.
The ritual of Chhath puja provides mental calmness (by detoxifying the body and mind), increases the energy level and immunity reduces the frequency of anger, jealous as well as a lot of negative emotions.
It is also supposed that following the Chhath procedures helps in slowing down the aging process.