Chhath Puja, one of the most significant festivals in the Hindu calendar, is an auspicious occasion dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, Surya. Celebrated primarily in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as in certain regions of Nepal, Chhath Puja holds immense cultural and religious significance. It is a four-day festival filled with unique rituals, devotion, and reverence towards the Sun.
Day 1: Nahay Khay (17/11/2023):
The festivities of Chhath Puja commence with Nahay Khay, which translates to “bathing and eating.” On this day, devotees take a holy dip in a river, pond, or other water bodies before sunrise. This ritual cleansing symbolizes purity and purification of the mind, body, and soul. After the bath, devotees prepare traditional vegetarian meals that are consumed only once on this day.
The significance of Nahay Khay lies in its symbolic representation of self-control and austerity. By abstaining from worldly pleasures and observing strict discipline, devotees prepare themselves for the rigorous rituals ahead. It is a time for reflection, purification, and spiritual awakening.
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Day 2: Lohanda and Kharna (18/11/2023):
The second day of Chhath Puja 2023 is known as Lohanda and Kharna. On this day, devotees observe a strict fast without water, which lasts from sunrise to sunset. It is a day of immense devotion and sacrifice as devotees refrain from consuming even a drop of water.
In the evening, after the sunset, the fast is broken with a special meal called “kheer.” The kheer is prepared by mixing jaggery, rice, and milk, symbolizing the offering to the deities. This meal is partaken by the fasting devotee and is considered highly sacred.
The significance of Lohanda and Kharna lies in the endurance and dedication displayed by devotees. The fast without water tests their willpower and determination, strengthening their bond with the divine. It is believed that observing this fast brings blessings, prosperity, and good health to the devotees and their families.
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Day 3: Sandhya Arghya (19/11/2023):
The third day of Chhath Puja, known as Sandhya Arghya, is the most significant day of the festival. It is marked by elaborate rituals and fervent devotion towards the Sun God. Devotees gather on the riverbank or near a water body in the evening to offer prayers to the setting Sun.The preparations for Sandhya Arghya begin early in the day.
Devotees clean their homes, fast, and observe strict discipline. They prepare an assortment of traditional offerings, including fruits, sugarcane, coconut, holy water, and a special delicacy known as “Thekua.” Thekua is a sweet made with wheat flour, jaggery, and ghee, and is considered a sacred offering to the Sun God.
As the Sun starts to descend, the devotees line up on the riverbank and offer their prayers. The rituals involve the chanting of mantras, singing devotional songs called Chhath Geet, and performing Surya Namaskar (sun salutations). The Surya Namaskar consists of a sequence of physical postures and prostrations expressing reverence and gratitude towards the Sun God.
The setting Sun is worshipped with great devotion, and devotees offer their prayers, seeking blessings for the well-being and prosperity of their families. The atmosphere is filled with joy, spirituality, and a sense of unity as people come together to celebrate this divine festival.
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Day 4: Usha Arghya (20/11/2023):
The final day of Chhath Puja is known as Usha Arghya, which translates to “dawn offerings.” On this day, devotees wake up before sunrise and gather near a water body to offer prayers to the rising Sun. This ritual marks the conclusion of the festival. Just as on the previous day, devotees prepare the necessary offerings and perform the morning rituals with great devotion. As the Sun rises, they express their gratitude and offer their prayers, seeking blessings and divine grace.
After the completion of the Usha Arghya, devotees break their fast and share the Prasad, which includes the offerings made to the Sun God. It is a time of celebration and joy as families and communities come together to partake in the blessed Prasad and exchange warm wishes.
Chhath Puja 2023, with its deep-rooted traditions and rituals, is a festival that embodies devotion, discipline, and gratitude towards the Sun God. It is a time when people connect with nature, seeking blessings for their well-being and prosperity. The festival not only holds religious significance but also showcases the rich cultural heritage of the regions where it is celebrated. The devotion and commitment displayed by devotees during Chhath Puja serve as a reminder of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit.
Chhath Puja 2023, to be celebrated from 17th November to 20th November, will be a time of joyous festivities, traditional rituals, and a strong sense of community. As the devotees gather to worship the Sun God, they will immerse themselves in the divine energy and experience the spiritual essence of this ancient festival.
Chhath Puja is an occasion to celebrate the life-giving and sustaining power of the Sun, and it serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness between humans and nature. It is a celebration of gratitude, devotion, and the eternal bond between mankind and the celestial forces that shape our existence.
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