Chhath Puja, one of the most ancient Hindu Vedic festivals, is widely celebrated every year mostly in Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Nepal. During the four-day festival, devotees worship Lord Sun and his wife Usha. This year, it will be celebrated from November 11 and continue till November 14, with ‘Nahaye Khaye’ on November 11, ‘Kharna’ on November 12, ‘Sandhya Arghya’ on November 13 and ‘Usha Arghya’ on November 14. It is celebrated four days after Diwali.
According to Hindi calendar, Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika in the Vikram Samvat. It is also celebrated in the summers, some days after Holi which is called Chaiti Chhath. But, Karthika month’s Chhath is more ardently followed by people. It is also celebrated in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh with great fervour.
On the first day of the puja — Nahay Khay, devotees take a dip, preferably in the Kosi river, Karnali and Ganga, and carry home the holy water to prepare the offerings. On Kharna, the devotees observe a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening a little after sunset. After worshipping the Sun and the Moon, they prepare offerings of kheer, bananas and rotis for their family. After consuming the offering, they fast for 36 hours without water.
On the third day — Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings), after preparing the prasad, they take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and Chhathi maiyya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs. Then comes the fourth and the last day of the festival —Usha Arghya — when the devotees go to the holy waters a little before sunrise and offer morning offerings to the sun, following which they break their fast.
Devotees during this period observe purity and live frugally. They sleep on the floor on a single blanket.