Chhath Puja, which is historically native to Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh of India, is an ancient Hindu vedic festival that is dedicated to the lord Surya and his wife Usha to thank them for supporting life on earth and seek their protection and blessings. The festival is also celebrated in Nepal. This year, Chhath Puja will be celebrated on October 26.
The occasion is observed over a period of four days when rigorous rituals are observed throughout, which include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from even drinking water, offering prasad and prayers to the rising and setting sun. Moreover, some devotees also perform a prostration march while heading to the river banks.
The first day of the puja, which falls on October 24 this year, is Nahay Khay, followed by Lohanda and Kharna, Chhath Puja and Usha Arghya. On this day, a holy dip in water bodies, especially river Ganga, is taken by devotees and women observe fast and only eat a single meal. The following day, fasting without water is observed from sunrise to sunset and is broken once the food is offered to the sun. On the third day, which is considered the main day of the festival, a fast without water is observed and Arghya, which means offering to the lord, is made to the setting sun. Fasting then continues throughout the night. The 36 hours fast is broken on the fourth and final day of the festival and the offerings are made to the rising sun. Chhath Puja is also known as Pratihar, Dala Chhath, Chhathi and Surya Shashthi.