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THE SUN WORSHIP FESTIVAL (Chhath Puja, Surya Shashti)

THE SUN WORSHIP FESTIVAL (Chhath Puja, Surya Shashti)

Sun God, Surya, the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the  Chhath Puja to promote well-being, prosperity and progress.

Chhath Puja is also known as Surya Shashti, Chhathi and Dala Chhath.

ChhathPuja is a festival of reverence to the solar deity, the only festival in the world where devotees offer salutations to the setting and rising Sun. Chhath puja is performed on Kartik Shukla Shashti i.e. the 6th day of the month of Kartik in the Hindu Calendar, exactly 6 days after Deepawali. This falls around the month of October-November as per the Gregorian calendar. A week after Diwali, the festival of lights, comes the festival Chhath. For one night and day, the people practically live on the banks of a river or any other water body in the neighbourhood where a ritual offering is made to the Sun god. The venue for this unique festival is the riverbank and since the Gangestraverses the countryside of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bengalin Indialike a lifeline, it is but appropriate that the banks of this river should be the ideal prayer location. Devotees   take a holy dip before preparing offerings (Prasad). The main constituent of the offerings are Thekua, which is a wheat based cake.

Offerings are preferably cooked on earthen Chulha (oven). Some traditions are exercised with little difference varying from region to region and across the  families with basic similarity.

During the , offerings are contained in small, semicircular pans woven out of bamboo strips called soop.

Chhathis considered a means to thank the Sun for bestowing the bounties of life on earth as also for fulfilling particular wishes.  Chhathis a Hindu festival but many Muslim families also participate in this holy festival in certain places.

Chhath Stories |

Mahabharata

Many stories are famous about Chhath festival. According to one such story, Draupadi kept this fast and celebrated this festival in order to relieves Pandavas of all their problems after they lost everything in a gamble. Doing this, relieved Pandavas of all their problems and they won back their throne.

It is also believed that Gayatri Mata was born on the same day and Vishwamitra wrote the Gayatri Mantra on this day only

Ramayana

Lord Rama after being victorious in Lanka came back to know Ayodhya and was made the King. He along with Sita ji kept this fast on the sixth day of the Kartik Shukla Paksha and worshipped Lord Sun so that he could be blessed with a son.


According to another story, King Priyavad didn’t have a child and thus, Saint Kashyap   asked him to perform Putrayeshti Yagya. His wife Malini was given Kheer as Prasad due to which she was blessed with a son. But, this son was born dead which distressed the King and he tried to kill himself.

At that time, Lord’s human daughter, Devsena, appeared and told the King that she was Devi Shashti. She asked him to worship her and that he would be blessed with a child in return. It is believed that this Puja was performed on Kartik Shukla Paksha’s Shashti due to which it is celebrated on the same

Nahay Khay
The four day long festival of Chhath begins with Nahay Khay. The first day of this festival is celebrated as ‘Nahay Khay’. It will be celebrated on 17th November, 2012 this year. For this, the whole house is cleaned and the fast begins. People can be seen gathering around water bodies. They take baths and worship Lord Sun. On this day, rice, wheat, coriander leaves etc. are offered to Lord Sun.

Kharna

Kharna is celebrated on the second day of Chhath festival. People fast on this day and dont even consume water. This year it will be celebrated on 18th November, 2012. Fruits, kheer, rice etc are eaten on breaking the fast. Salt and sugar are not used in the Prasad which is made up of kheer, sugar cane, rice etc.

Arghya evening

This will be celebrated on 19th November, 2012. This is celebrated on the third day of the Chhath festival. As Prasad, rice’s laddoo and Tikri are made. Water is poured to Lord Sun during sunrise and arrangements are made for it in a basket.

Water and Milk are offered to Lord Sun during sunrise by standing in a water body. Devi Chhathi is also worshipped.

SunriseArghya

Water will be poured to Lord Sun during Sunriseon 20th November, 2012. This is done on Kartik Shukla Paksha Saptami. This is done in the same way as when water is poured to Lord Sun during sunset. In the end, the person fasting breaks his fast by consuming water and milk. The Prasad is distributed among different people.

Chhathis considered a means to thank the Sun for bestowing the bounties of life on earth as also for fulfilling particular wishes. Chhath fast is like offering rigorous austerities. The person celebrating this festival has to fast for four consecutive days. It is believed that this fast blesses a person with a son. Women who ant to be blessed with a child or want blessings for their children keep this fast and celebrate this festival.

Chhathis a Hindu festival but many Muslim families also participate in this holy festival in certain places .The festival is with an aim to express thanks to Sun God for offering energy to earth continuously enabling the environment suitable for the people to live.

 

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