Chhath is an important four-day festival celebrated in accordance to the Hindu-Vedic tradition. Celebrated on the sixth day of the Karthik month in the Vikram’s Samrat, devotees worship the sun god for prosperity, well-being, happiness and focus in life.
Originally celebrated mostly in northern Bihar and Nepal’s Mithila region, now many Indian states like Jharkhand, Bihar, eastern UP, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, etc., also celebrate the festival with great fervour. The four-day festival falls four days after Diwali. This year, Chhath will be celebrated from November 4-7, with the main day of Chhath puja on November 3.
Chhath or Sashthi means six, and derives the name from being celebrated on the sixth day of the Karthik month in the Hindu lunar calendar. People offer prayers and offerings to the rising and setting sun and Chhathi maiya, the younger wife of the sun god, also known as Usha. Unlike most other festivals, Chhath has certain significant differentiating features. People observe rigorous fasting – including abstinence from drinking water and prayers, the Surya Sashthi puja – the essential part of the four-day festival, does not require a priest for conducting the prayers and puja. In addition to strict fasting, holy bathing, offering prayer offerings to the rising and setting sun, standing in the water for long hours also form part of the rituals.
The first day (November 4) of the festival is called Nahay khay. The devotees take a dip, preferably in the river Kosi, Karnali and Ganga and carry home the holy water of these to prepare the offerings on this day.
On the second day (November 5), that is Lohanda, after worshipping the sun and the moon, they prepare offerings of kheer, bananas and rice for their family. After consuming the offering, the fast for 36 hours without water.
On the third day (November 6) of Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings), the devotees take a dip in the holy water, after preparing the offerings and worship the sun god and Chhathi maiyya. They offer their prayers and offerings while their family members sing folk songs.
On the fourth day (November 7), devotees go to the holy waters and offer morning offerings or ‘Usha arghya’ to the sun, following which they break their fast.
The main festival is commemorated on the third day of Chhath, when the sun god is offered Surya namaskar and fruits. Also known as Surya Sashthi puja, people worship the sun god with reverence to be blessed with longevity, good health, prosperity, and well-being.
The following is the puja muhurat and timings for the festival:
Chhath Puja (Surya Sashthi) day: November 6, 2016
Sunrise on Chhath Puja day: 06:36 am
Sunset on Chhath Puja Day: 5:32 pm