The ancient Chhath Puja festival, dedicated to Sun God (Bhagwan Surya),is celebrated to acknowledge Lord Surya for showering blessings and preserving life & energy on earth.
Chhath Puja rituals and traditions are very tough as the devotee has to observe fast for 36 hours without consuming food or water. The rituals and traditions of Chhath Puja to be performed on each day are discussed below.
Rituals And Traditions:
First Day:- Naha Khay (Bath and Eat) : The first day of the Chhath Puja is called Naha Khay. On this day, the devotee (Vratti) takes holy bath in River Ganga and bring home the holy water from the river to offer as Prasad.
Second Day Kharna:- The devotees observe fast for the whole day without consuming food or water, and break it in the evening after worshipping Chhathi Maiya and eating Prasad. Offering (Prasad) made of Rasiao-kheer (cooked rice in milk), puris or chapattis and bananas are distributed among family members and neighbors.
Third Day:- Sandhya Arghya (Evening Offering): The devotees observe fast without taking food or water and whole day is spent for preparing the puja offerings. The offerings (Arghya) are kept in baskets made of bamboo sticks (known as Dauri or Supali) or in metal basket. The offerings include Puri, Thekua, Coconut, Banana, Apple, Orange, and other fruits.
Evening rituals are performed in the banks of the river, pond or other clear water bodies. The Vrattis along with the family members and friends go there and offer Sandhya Arghya to the Sun God.
Kosi (Kosiya):- Kosi bharna or Kosiya is one of the most attractive events during Chhath Pooja. After performing the Sandhya Arghya, kosi is celebrated in the angna or courtyard of the house. It is a beautiful event in which five sugarcane sticks or twenty four sugarcane sticks are tied with a yellow cloth and a number of earthen lamps are arranged under its shade. The same kosi ritual is celebrated on the ghats in the early morning before the Morning Arghya.
Fourth Day:- Bihaniya or Bhorwa Ghat (Morning Arghya): This is the final day of this festival. The devotees along with their family and friends gather at the river banks and offer bhorwa arghya or morning offerings to the rising Sun. After offering the arghya, the devotees knee-down at the ghat to worship Chathi Maiya. Then they distribute Prasad and return home.
After returning from the ghat, the devotees seek blessings of the elders and break their fast by consuming ginger with water.
Later on, varieties of delicacies are prepared to serve the devotees.
During the festival, the women folks spend their night singing traditional Chhath songs.
The most popular Chhath songs include:
* Kelawa jey farela ghawad sey… oh par sooga mandaraaye…..
* Paisee jagawe suruj mal ke amma…..
* Hey uditanaatha…ho gelo bihaan…..
* Roonki jhunki beti maangila padhala pandita damaad hey Chhathi maiya…..
* Bhaiya mora jaayela mahanga moonger…..
* Saama khele chalaali… bhouji sang saheli ho…..
* Kaachi kaachi baans ke bahangiya…bahangi lachkat jaye… Etc.
During the Chhath Puja celebrated in the month of Kartik, non-vegetarian item is strictly prohibited in the family. Only vegetarian food is cooked carefully without salt, garlic and onion.
In a family, once the lady folk perform Chhath Puja, the tradition is continued in the following years by the successive generation. If one cannot observe fast or perform the rituals due to some reasons, the arghya should be given by some other devotee (Vratti). The Vratti unable to give arghya has to observe fast. Helping a Vratti during Chhath Puja is believed to be the most auspicious thing because Chatthi Maiya showers her blessings on everyone.
“Dandwat Pranam” or “Dand Khinchna” is a tradition observed during Chhath Puja. Men and women who wish to be successful in something, lie on the ground in simple cloth and take an oath to go to the Chhath Ghat. The “Dandwat Pranaam” begins the moment the Chhath Daura starts to the Ghat. With the help of a “Kanda”, a type of stick, the devotee draws a circle while lying on the ground, with the help of stomach and extending both hands in “Pranaam Mudra”. After arriving on the Ghat, after performing “Dand”, the devotee takes a holy bath in the river and worships Chhathi Maiya.