Saturday, March 21, 2020

Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja

The Chhath festival is celebrated twice a year with full devotion and faith.  The first Chhath festival is celebrated in Chaitra month and second in Kartik month.  Shashti Chhath of Chaitra Shukla Paksha and Shashthi of Kartik Shukla Paksha are called Kartiki Chhath.  This festival is famous for worshiping Suryadev.

Chhath Puja is an ancient festival celebrated on the sixth day after Diwali.  Chhath Puja is also addressed by the name of Surya Chhath or Dala Chhath.  Chhath Puja is celebrated in various metros of the country including Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh.

Although people bow to the rising sun, Chhath Puja is a unique festival that begins with the worship of the at the time of sunset .  The word "Chhath" comes from the abbreviation "Shashthi", which means "six", so this festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the ascending phase of the moon, on the Shukla Paksha of the month of Kartik.
Starting from the Chaturthi of Kartik month, the festival celebrated till Saptami lasts for four days.  The main puja is performed on the sixth day of the Shukla Paksha of Kartik month.
The fast of Chhath Puja is linked to the happiness, prosperity and health of the family.  The main purpose of this fast is to wish for the health of all family members including husband, wife, son, grandson.  The practice of Chhath also provides mental peace.  The regular flow of air during Chhath helps to reduce anger, jealousy and other negative emotions. There are many famous folk rituals of Surya worship in our country which are celebrated in different provinces with different customs.  In many other foreign islands including Mauritius, Trinidad, Sumatra, Java, residents of Indian origin celebrate Chhath festival with great faith and pomp.

“This festival is a day of gratitude to the Sun.  Sun is an integral part of our life.  Sun is the basis of our existence.  Arghya is required in this, that is, to see the sun, it is necessary and it can be done only in the morning or evening.  Now the question arises, how long does one need to see the sun?You hold water in your hands and the water slowly comes out of your fingers, till then the sun is seen.  Seeing the sun provides energy to your body.  Therefore, the puja is performed mainly to express gratitude to the Sun. "

It is believed that the celebration of Chhath Puja is clearly stated in the ancient Vedas, as the rituals performed during worship are similar to the rituals described in the Rigveda, in which the sun is worshiped.  At that time, Rishis were also known to worship the Sun and without getting good intake they received their energy directly from the Sun.
Chhath Puja is mainly celebrated in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.  However, now this festival is celebrated in every corner of the country.  According to mythology, it is believed that it was one of the main festivals of Suryavanshi kings of India.  It is said that at one time, an ancestor of Magadha emperor Jarasandha had suffered leprosy. In order to get rid of this disease, the Shakladeshi Magh Brahmins of the state worshiped the Sun God.  As a result, the ancestor of the king got rid of leprosy and since then the morning of Suryopasana has started on Chhath.

It is believed that Chhath Devi is the sister of Suryadev.  Therefore, to appease Chhath Devi on Chhath festival, Sun God is pleased.  Suryadev is worshiped on the banks of the Ganges-Yamuna or any river, the lake. Chhath Puja is also mentioned in Mahabharata.  Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, worshiped the sun god before marriage and received a son as a blessing, whose name was Karna.  Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, also performed Chhath Puja to alleviate their suffering.

Bathing and charity are given special importance in Chhath Puja.  According to the Puranas, the day when Lord Rama established the kingdom of Rama after conquering Lanka was Kartik Shukla Shashthi Tithi.  In which Mata Sita and Lord Rama kept a fast and worshiped Lord Suryanarayana.  After this, Saptami was once again performed rituals and took blessings from Lord Surya. There is another legend about Chhath Puja. According to this legend, Sun son Karna started worshiping Sun God.  Karna was a great devotee of Lord Surya.  He used to offer prayers to Lord Surya by standing in water for many hours every day.  He became a great warrior by the grace of Sun God.  For this reason, the Sun was given even today.
It is said that following the advice of the great sage Dhaumya in the Mahabharata period, Draupadi resorted to Chhath Puja to liberate the Pandavas from hardship.  Through this ritual, she was not only able to solve immediate problems, but later, the Pandavas had reclaimed her kingdom in Hastinapur (present day Delhi). It is said that Karna, the son of Surya (Suraj), who fought against the Pandavas in the great war of Kurukshetra, also performed the ritual of Chhath.  Another significance of worship is also associated with the story of Lord Rama.  According to ancient texts, Rama and his wife Sita had fasted and prayed to the sun god in the month of Kartik in Shukla Paksha after 14 years of exile.  Since then, Chhath Puja has become an important and traditional Hindu festival, which is celebrated with enthusiasm every year.

There is also popular belief that worshiping the Sun God also eliminates diseases like leprosy and ensures the longevity and prosperity of the family.  It is done with strict discipline, purity and highest respect.  And once a family starts roof worship, it becomes their duty to pass on the traditions for generations.

Chhath Puja Festival

 1. First day

 On the first day of Chhath Puja, Kartik Shukla Chaturthi is celebrated as ‘Nahai-Khay’.  The house is first cleaned and made holy.  After this, Chhathvarthi takes a bath and starts the fast by taking “pure vegetarian food made in a holy way”.  All the members of the household take food only after the vrati meal. Pumpkin, gram dal and rice are taken as food.  On this day, devotees take a dip in Koshi, Karnali and the Ganges River, and take this holy water home to prepare the prasad.

2. the second day

 On the second day, Karthik, after fasting for the whole day of fasting on Shukla Panchami, takes food in the evening, it is called ‘Kharna’.  All the people around are invited to take 'Kharna' prasad.  Jaggery and kheer(rice pudding)and bread are made on earthen stove in the form of Prasad.
No salt or sugar is used in it.  Brass utensils are used during worship.  Use banana leaves to worship.  During this time special care should be taken on the cleanliness of the entire house.  After taking the offering, they fast for 36 hours without water.

3. the third day

 Chhath Prasad is made on an earthen stove on the third day of Kartik "Shukla Shashthi".  Thekua in the form of Prasad which is also called Tikri in some areas.  Apart from the Thekua, we make rice laddus. Apart from this, cloves, cardamom , pan-betel nut, foregut, gram, sweets, raw turmeric, ginger, banana, lemon , radish and coconut, vermilion and many other fruits are also brought as prasad of Chhath are included. In the evening, after preparing and arranging the  of Aghrya in a bamboo basket, and with fasting, all the family and the people of the neighborhood walk towards the Ghat to give the Aasthachalami sun. All Chhath Vrat gather together on the banks of a holy river or pond and collectively sing the songs of Chhath.  After this, Arghay performs charity.  The sun is given a water's arghay and the Chhathi maiya is worshiped with prasad-filled sup.
During this, the fair becomes visible for a few hours.  After sunset, everyone comes home singing  chhata's song with all the goods and starts another worship process in the courtyard of their house.  Which is called Koshi.
This puja is performed after the completion of a vow or in an auspicious work in some house.  In it, a roof  is made by tying seven sugarcane, new cloth, in which a clay urn or elephant is kept and lamps are lit in it and prasads are placed around it.  All the women sing in koshi puja song and  give thanks to the chhathi maiya.

This festival is not for any particular gender, but both men and women can keep this fast.

When things comes to the beginning of Chhath Puja, there are different views about it.  The first to describe Chhath Puja is found in two stories.  One will be told by Priyabrata, son of Brahmaputra Manu. Apart from this, the most ancient history which is found to keep the fast of Chhath Puja is through Dakshaputri and Devmata Aditi.  Both of these are recognized as the oldest Chhath Vrat.

Prajapati Daksha became the son of Brahma.  His 13 girls were married to Maharishi Kashyap, son of Maharishi Marichi.  It is said that all the species beings were born from Daksha Kanya and Maharishi Kashyapa. Diti was the eldest of the 13 girls from whom all the demons were born.  All the deities were born to Daksha's second daughter Aditi, who was called Aditya.  Thus the demons became the elder brothers of the gods.
with the time, there was growing disharmony among the demons and devas, which eventually took the form of the Devasur struggle.  The demons were naturally more powerful than the gods as well as elusive. Due to the neutrality of the tridevas, the gods could not get their help and in the first Devasur Sangram the gods were defeated.  The demons took possession of all the three worlds including heaven.
Then Aditi, the mother of the Gods, went to Parampita Brahma and told her situation .  Then Brahmadeva asked her to worship the own-generated Devasena, known as Shashti Devi.  Then Mata Aditi worshiped Shashthi Devi for 100 years.
Pleased with her penance, Shashthi Devi appeared to her and asked her to keep a very difficult fast for  4 days.  After the end of that fast, Shasthi devi was pleased and asked her to ask for a boon.

Then Aditi told her situation , on hearing of which Shashthi Devi blessed her with a virtuous son.  As a result of his boon, Mata Aditi received a son with the qualities of Trideva, whose name was Aditya.

This Aditya later became famous as Vivaswan or Surya.  The gods then attacked the demons with Aditya's power together and eventually conquered.
This 4 day fast observed by Mata Aditi is considered as the first Chhath Puja.  Mata Shashthi later started being called Chhath Maiya . Where Mata Aditi had kept this fast, it became famous in the world as Dev Surya Mandir, which is in Dev name village of Aurangabad district of Bihar. Lord Suryanarayana has so much importance in Chhath Puja due to the worship by Mata Aditi and the birth of Aditya.  That is why in Chhath we worship Suryanarayana while setting and rising and thanking him for giving us life.  The significance of this festival is so much that it has been called Mahaparva.
In the Puranas, there has been a reference to Priyabrata for doing this puja for the first time.
Manu became the son of parampita Brahma, who we also know as Swambhu Manu.  Manu married Shatrupa, born from the left limb of Brahmadev, which gave birth to all humans. In the name of Manu, we are called Maanav.  Both had two sons - Priyavrata and Uttanapada.  The son of Uttanapada was the great devotee Dhruva who attained the eternal world by the grace of Lord Vishnu.
Manu's second son Priyavrata had no children.  His wife's name was Malini.  Priyabrata and Malini were very unhappy due to being childless.  Once Maharishi Kashyap came to the kingdom of Priyavrat.  He was the son of Maharishi Marichi and elder brother of Priyavrata and Uttanapada.
Raja Priyavrat and Malini received him with great respect and served him wholeheartedly.  Maharishi Kashyap was very happy with his service, but seeing both of them unhappy, Maharishi Kashyap asked the reason for this.  On this, Priyavrat told him about his childlessness.
Seeing both grief, Maharishi Kashyap decided to perform the Putreshti Yagya for Priyavrat.  In the auspicious time, he started the yagna and by the end of the yagna, Malini became pregnant as a result of the yagna. After that Maharishi Kashyapa blessed both of them and returned to his ashram.  King Priyavrat and Malini were very happy thinking about their son.

But boths happiness did not last long.  When Malini was delivered in the ninth month, her son was born dead.  Seeing this, Priyavrat's grief did  remain and he started wandering here-there with his dead body in son's disconnection.  One day he decided to put an end to his life and ran towards the fire pit to consume himself.
Before they could commit self-immolation, suddenly a celestial plane from heaven descended in front of them and a goddess appeared from it.  Seeing his form and brilliance, Priyavrat asked him to introduce him. Then that goddess said - "O Rajan! I am Devasena, the psyche daughter of the Brahma. I am born from the sixth part of Brahmadev, so I have a name called Shashthi. But why do you want to end your life.

Then Priyavrat told her how his son was born dead.  Hearing this, that goddess touched his son and by her touch, the child immediately became alive and began to cry.  When Priyavrata saw this miracle, he worshiped the goddess in different ways.  The day Devasena had gave  life Priyavrat's son, it was the shasti tithi of Kartik month.

Then Priyavrat told him what else he could serve him?  Then Shashti Mata said that she wants her worship on earth to continue forever.  Priyavrat was a Prajapati, so he made a law for worshiping Goddess Shashthi. First of all, he himself worshiped them by keeping a fast and that order has been going on since then.  Today we know the same Devasena or Shashti Devi as Chhath Maiya.  According to South Indian religious texts, the same Devasena was later married to Kartikeya, the eldest son of Mahadev.

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