People performing Chhath Puja.

Chhath Puja is one of the oldest Hindu Vedic festivals on the Earth.

Travelling doesn’t only mean visiting several cities, states and countries and merely seeing the monuments, beaches, mountains, etc but also about knowing the history and culture of that state or country and connecting with those cultures and traditions. Boundaries do not make the state or country, Cultures and traditions do, it gives a unique identity to that place. 

Today, let us know about one of the oldest cultures in this world, which is still practiced with the same zeal and enthusiasm as it was practiced 1000 years ago.

Let us know more about “Chhath Puja-The Mahaparv.”

ORIGIN of Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja is one of the oldest Hindu Vedic festivals of the Earth which continues to be celebrated even now. It is quite unbelievable that although India has gone through a lot of annexations from foreign invaders after that, but Chhath Puja – The Mahaparv is still celebrated even today.

 The word “Chhath” literally means six, so the festival is celebrated six days after Deepawali. It is believed that when “God Shri Ram” and “Goddess Sita” returned Ayodhya, Diwali was celebrated throughout the country to welcome them. After six days of Diwali Ramrajya was established. On the sixth day, Bhagwan Shri Ram and Mata Sita observed the whole day fast and worshiped the Sun (Surya), the supreme source of all energy. It might be called with some other name, but today it is referred to as Chhath Puja.

The origin of Chhath Puja also hails from the “Mahabharata era”. It s believed that Karna, who is considered offspring of Lord Surya and Kunti, was the first to perform Chhath Puja-The Mahaparv.

There are many more beliefs regarding the origin of Chhath Puja-The Mahaparv but today it is greatly celebrated by Biharis, people of Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and also by Nepalis. Since Biharis are settled worldwide, they have carried this culture along with them, which is why it is no longer a regional festival.

How Chhath Puja is celebrated?

Chhath Puja is a four-day-long festival celebrated with great energy and zeal in Bihar. Each and every Bihari, irrespective of religion or caste take part in this festival. Chhath Puja is very special for all Biharis and holds great significance in their life. People start waiting for the festival just after Dussehra. The whole Bihar starts echoing with Chhath geet after Navratri. 

Preparation of Chhath puja starts after Diwali. The devotee called “Vrati” takes a Ganga bath to purify all the sins before performing such an auspicious and pious Chhath Puja. Other people also take river baths to clean themselves from all the sins before taking part in the festival. Strict cleanliness and hygiene are observed. Houses, roads, and shops are cleaned more thoroughly than it was done in Diwali. People buy various fruits and Vrati prepares Thekua as a Prasad for the festival. Non-Veg and Onions are not consumed during this festival. Maximum eateries and restaurants stop serving Non-Veg and Onions in Bihar. This shows how important this festival is for Biharis.

Since Chhath Puja is a 4-days long festival, Let us know about it more systematically:

Vrati worshiping the Sun, supreme source of energy.

DAY 1: Nahay Khaye

Though it is said that Chhath Puja is celebrated six days after Diwali, but on grounds, the celebration begins two days before. 

Day 1 is called Nahaya Khaya. As the word suggests, Vrati and other devotees take a holy bath in the river to commence this 4-days long Mahaparv. Cleanliness and hygiene are of utmost priority. No one is even allowed to touch their mouth during the festival, and if they do they should clean their hands properly. 

After taking a holy dip in the river, Vrati prepares Prasad for the day which is Gourd and Rice (that’s why it is also Kaddu Bhaat), the simplest but still the tastiest food ever eaten. Today’s Prasad is based on the Hindi phrase “सादा भोजन, उच्च विचार (simple food, high thoughts).” Vrati eats that Prasad and breaks his/her day-long fast. Then only, others are allowed to eat that Prasad. People worship food for fulfilling their hunger and offer it to Chhathi Maiya as gratitude for serving their children with food.  

DAY 2: Kharna

The next day, Vrati observes a full day, extreme fast. They don’t even consume a single drop of water the whole day. That is why Chhath puja is also the toughest festival to perform. In the evening, Vrati prepares Prasad, which is Kheer. Vrati performs the puja. During the Puja, Extreme pin drop silence is observed. No one is allowed to break the silence. It is believed that the whole of Bihar gets sand stilled while that puja is performed.

As the puja ends, Vrati consumes that Prasad and breaks their extreme day-long fast. Again the extreme fast for almost two days (निर्जला उपवास) starts after consuming that “Pious Prasad of Kharna”. Others take blessings from Vrati and then consume that pious Prasad. This Prasad is considered very pious. This Prasad is served to the maximum number of people possible irrespective of the religion so that everyone gets the blessings of Chhathi Maiya.

Day 3: Sandhya Arag

Sandhya Arag, the third day of the festival and the sixth day after Diwali. On this day, Vrati arranges Dala and Sufs (Basket of fruits.)

Vrati continues to observe the strict fast without consuming a single drop of water (निर्जला उपवास).

This shows how dedicated they are towards Chhathi Maiya.

 Every road is cleaned thoroughly, especially those roads heading towards ghats. As already mentioned, Cleanliness is the utmost priority. People carry Sufs and Dallas (basket of fruits) on their heads to the ghats. Even those ghats are cleaned and decorated.

Sufs and Dallas arranged on Chhath Ghats.

Vrati takes bath in the river water. And when the sun starts setting, People do arag. (Prayer to the setting sun). Vrati offers Sufs and Dallas to the Sun, the supreme source of all energy, and Chhathi Maiya.

The worship of the setting Sun makes this festival very special. Worshiping the rising sun is common, but worshiping the setting sun makes this festival as MAHAPARV. People then get back to their homes. It is very interesting to know that in some places of Bihar (especially near Ganga Ghats) people and Vrati spend the whole night on ghats in that chilling winter without consuming any eatables.

Day 4: Usha Arag

Usha Arag, Fourth, and the last day of the Mahaparv. On this day Vrati and people rise very early in the chilling morning. Vrati is still on “strict fasting”. As already mentioned, reiterating, Cleanliness is the most important part of this festival, People take baths in that chilling winter and get ready for the morning prayers.

People clean and wash roads again. Whole Bihar shines more brightly that day. Roads and Ghats are properly illuminated and decorated. People try to get to ghats early so that they can enjoy the view of ghats and decorations. They take lots of photos with their close ones, united for this festival. People bust lots of crackers (saved from Diwali). Everyone enjoys that day with the greatest zeal possible because it is the last day of the Mahaparv.

When the sun starts rising, Vrati takes bath in cold river water. Then the “Sufs” and “Dallas” are offered to the rising sun and Chhathi Maiya. Arag is done. 

People doing arag on Chhath ghats.

After the completion of prayers, people take blessings from Vrati. Before leaving ghats with little sadness, they pray to the sun and express gratitude for being the reason for life on the Earth.

People go back home. Vrati consumes Fruits (now Prasad) and breaks her 2-days long and strict fast (निर्जला उपवास). Then people consume those pious prasads. It is distributed to the maximum number of people possible because Chhath is not a festival celebrated within a family, it is a festival celebrated in a community.

Ending

The silence after the festival is very horrible. People don’t even realize how these four days passed at light’s speed.

Now again the wait starts, again 365 days countdown to the reunion of the family, Maa ke hath ka thekua and to feel that emotion which is very difficult to express in words. In that strange silence after chhath, the united family again starts separating in a hope to reunite again after a year with the same zeal, same emotions and same love for the festival of Bihar, “Chhath-The Mahaparv.”

Please visit Bihar when this festival is around, and you will conceivably affirm that Chhath is not just a festival, It is an emotion for BIHARIS.

If you have ever witnessed Chhath-The Mahaparv, please do share below your experiences, magical moments, relatable things, and any sort of information which we missed above.

Thank You for reading. Happy Chhath Puja everyone there.

|| जय छठी मैया ||

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