Chhath puja is a Hindu Vedic festival dedicated to the sun god (Lord Surya) and chhathi Maiya. It is an important festival of Bihar; apart from that Chhath puja is also observed in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal as well as the Madhesh region of Nepal. Chhath puja is also called Chhathi, Chhath Parv, Dala, Chhath Dala Puja, and Surya Shashthi. During this festival women of the house observe fast and pray for the wellbeing of their children and family.
Chhath puja is celebrated 6 days after Diwali on sukhla paksha sasthi of Kartik month. In 2020 it falls on Friday, 20 November. Actually the rituals of Chhath Puja are observed over a period of four days. The 4 days holy festival of Chhath starts with Nahay-Khay from Wednesday, 18 November 2020.
Chhath Puja Day 1: Nahay-Khay: Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Chhath Puja Day 2: Lohanda and Kharna - Thursday, 19 November 2020
Chhath Puja Day 3: Sandhya Arghya - Friday, 20 November 2020
Chhath Puja Day 4: Usha Argh and Paran - Saturday, 21 November 2020
Another Chhath puja is also celebrated after Holi on Chaitra Shashthi; called Chaiti Chhath.
Chhath Puja begins from the Nahay-Khay. After bathing in the morning, the vrati women clean the grain for the puja material and dry it by covering it in the sun. Cleanliness is taken care of during the washing and drying of grains. After this, women take a bath once again. From this day, not only the vrati women but also their families start taking satvik food. Kaddu Bhaat along with Channa dal is a common preparation on this day and it is cooked by using mud or bronze utensils and mango wood over a mud stove. After worship, all the observers are eaten only once on a day. After eating the food sometime mid-noon, vrati starts the waterless-fast which is broken only the next day evening while observing 'Kharna' the second day of Chhath Puja.
The second day of Chhath puja is known as Kharna. On Kharna, devotees observe Vrat for a time period of almost 8 to 12 hours. On this day devotees keep fast for the whole day and break their fast in the evening after sunset after the worship of Sun. People terminate the fast during the evening after performing Surya Puja. They offer Rasiao-kheer, puris, fruits in the puja.
The 3rd day of Chhath puja rituals is known as Sandhya Arghya. On this day, after preparing the prasad, devotees take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and chhathi Maiya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs.
On the last day of the Chhath Puja, devotees visit the riverbank before the sun rises and make offerings to the sun. It marks the end of Paran; that is breaking of the 36 hours fast. Then Prasad is shared with neighbors and relatives.
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