Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival devoted to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, and Chhathi Maiya. This year, Chhath is being celebrated on 20 November.
Chhath Puja rituals start on the sixth day of Hindu calendar month, Kartika. It is a prominent festival in the northern states of Bihar, certain regions of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Delhi and also Nepal in the east.
Why is the festival named ‘Chhath’?
The word Chhath means ‘six’ in Nepali or Hindi Language and as this festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika, the festival is named the same.
Stories behind Chhath Puja celebrations:
The exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined but there are many mythological references about the rituals in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
In Mahabharata, Draupadi and the Pandavas perform the Chhath rituals (worshipping Sun God) in order to regain their lost kingdom, Indraprastha.
Another story behind celebrating Chhath Puja is the story of Lord Rama. It is considered that 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 exile.
Rituals and traditions of Chhath Puja:
It is a four-day festival usually celebrated six days after Diwali. The ritual of Chhath Puja includes taking the holy bath, fasting, worshipping the sun and offering Prasad which includes kheer, puris, fruits in the puja.
‘Arghya’ to ‘rising and setting Lord Surya’ is an important part of the puja. Some worshipers observe fasting even without water for 36 hours continuously.
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