Chhath Puja, an ancient Hindu festival predominantly observed in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Nepal, holds deep cultural and spiritual significance. This four-day festival reveres the sun god, Surya, and his wife, Usha, celebrating their life-nurturing energies.
The festival occurs on the sixth day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika (October-November) and symbolizes gratitude towards the sun for sustaining life on Earth. The sun’s energy is acknowledged as vital for crops, prosperity, and well-being.
Rituals and Practices:
Nahai Khai: The first day involves a ritualistic bath, where devotees, mainly women, clean themselves and their surroundings before starting the fasting period.
Kharna: On the second day, devotees observe a strict fast without water from sunrise to sunset. They break this fast after making offerings of kheer (sweet rice) and fruits at sunset.
Sandhya Arghya (Evening Offerings): The third day marks the main day of Chhath Puja. Devotees offer prayers to the setting sun, standing in waist-deep water, and present ‘Arghya’ (offerings) of fruits, sugarcane, and lighted lamps to the sun.
Usha Arghya (Morning Offerings): On the fourth day, devotees return to the riverbank before sunrise to offer prayers and ‘Arghya’ to the rising sun, concluding the festival.