India is a country of festivals and it is no new fact that there are numerous festivals that are celebrated across the country around the 12 months. And that each state that is 29 states have their regional festival of their own.
Majority of them are documented and are known to the other parts of the country, people of other state also celebrate those festival with equal pomp and show.
Along with many festivals, one more thing that is worth mentioning here is that, Indian festivals are not only celebrated for gods and goddesses but also for the forces of nature such as earth, water, wind and sun.
And so, there are many festivals that are dedicated to celebrate these forces of nature and to thank them for providing life and continual prosperity. These festivals are a means of celebrating such forces of nature.
One such festival that is celebrated and is meant to worship the ‘sun’ is Chhath Puja. This particular festival is predominantly focused on worshipping ‘Sun’.
In this article we will explore about what is Chhath puja? How it came to its existence? And we will also explore about how the festival is celebrated among its devotees, what are its rituals? And an interesting fact about the festival.
What is Chhath Puja?
So, the first question that is mandatory to be answered in order to proceed ahead is knowing what exactly is Chhath Puja? Mostly and mainly celebrated by the North Indian part of the country, this festival is a means to thank the Sun.
It is one of those festivals of India that does not worship any form of idol in any way. A priest or in Indian terms ‘a pandit’, that is essential for carrying out every major Pooja in any festival, is not required in this festival.
This festival is solely celebrated by its followers or devotees alone. So there not much of a need of a priest to conduct the rituals of the festival. The devotees are very much capable of performing all the rituals necessary on their own.
So, the festival of Chhath is celebrated for a duration of four days. It is usually celebrated in the month of Kartika according to the Hindu calendar.
The festival falls mainly after the Diwali festival. It is also one of the major festivals of Indian Hindus. As for what part of the country is more dedicated to celebrate the festivals, then that would-be Bihar, U.P. and Jharkhand.
It is however should not be confusing that other part of India does not celebrate the festival, or that it is only reserved for Hindus to celebrate the festival.
The festival is also celebrated by people of other regions as well. And the festival is not only reserved for the people of India.
The interesting fact here is that the festival of Chhath is also celebrated in some other well-known countries as well. Yes, the festival is said to be celebrated in other countries, some of them are Nepal, Japan, U.K, Ireland, U.S.A and many more.
Belief in Chhath Pooja
Now that we know what Chhath Pooja is, let us dig in a little deep.
It was earlier mentioned that the festival is celebrated to worship ‘Sun’ some devotees also believe that the festival fulfills their deepest desires and wishes and so the devotees with full dedication and determination perform the ritual of the festivals.
The worship is a form of conveying gratitude to the sun for providing and sustaining life in the planet.
If we look towards the scientific side of the life sun has an important role in providing life to living creatures and that no force can ever replace the magnificent power of Sun.
So, it is understandable why the festival focusses on the conveying gratitude towards the sun.
As for the wish fulfilling side of the event, it is said that the rituals of the festivals are one of the hardest.
And that if one wants his or her wish to be fulfilled then they have to undergo the entire process of rituals with full determination, dedication and honesty.
Why Chhath Puja is celebrated?
Let’s move on to the question that is why Chhath puja is celebrated? Before that it is worth mentioning that the celebration of Chhath puja is dated way back in the pages of history.
And the date or the time that has mentioned the celebration of the festival is around the time of Vedas and Rishi or the sage.
It has been mentioned in the Vedas of the Indian Mythology. It even has a description in two of the famous epic stories of India. That are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
There has been the description of the people in that era celebrating the Chhath puja in order to thank the Sun as well as in order for granting them a prosperous life.
The mention of the celebration of the Chhath puja in Mahabharata, Draupadi, one of the important figures of the epic story of the Mahabharata, and the wife of the five Pandavas, performed the rites of the worship of the sun in order to grant her desired wish.
And the puja is also said to be an aid for the Pandavas winning back their kingdom that they had lost in the game of gambling. This puja therefore was performed by Draupadi.
Another mention of the celebration of the festival of the Chhath puja in the history was in the epic story of Ramayana.
In Ramayana the festival is performed after Ram the king of Ayodhaya returned to his kingdom along with his wife and brother after being in exile for about 14 years.
After he came back to his kingdom, he was crowned to be the true and the righteous king of Ayodhaya. And the festival was a mark of the beginning of his days after being coroneted.
And so, they offer their prayers to the entity Sun in order to mark the beginning of the new and prosperous kingship.
It is said that he returned in the month of Kartika and that’s why the festival is usually celebrated according to the Hindu calendar and the festival falls in the month of Kartika.
What rituals are performed in the festival?
The festival is mainly of four days, and those four days mainly falls after Diwali. The rituals of the festivals are very strictly followed for the period of said four days.
As it is a festival of worshipping the sun, the devotees worship the sun as soon as it rises, and even as it sets. There are prayers that are offered to the sun with its movements of rising and setting.
The rituals include the removal of all the impure things, cleaning of the house and even painting of the house, there are rites that include holding processions and going to the river and worshipping the sun.
Devotees hold fast for a longer duration of time, some even abstain from drinking water.
They practice or rather perform a rite of living simply such as sleeping on the floor. The devotees are said to perform each rite with utmost care and dedication, and that’s what makes the festival special.