What is Chhath Puja and why is it celebrated: Culture, News – India Today

What is Chhath Puja and why is it celebrated?

With roots in Mahabharata and Ramayana, Chhath Puja also has certain health benefits.

A prominent festival for the North Indian state of Bihar and certain regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal, Chhath Puja rituals commence on the sixth day of Hindu calendar month, Kartika.

Beginning today, November Four, Chhath Puja festivities span across four days and are observed to adore the Sun god and seek his blessings for the overall prosperity of the family. The fervour around the puja is marked by suggesting prayers to the Sun god, fasting and taking dips into the holy waters of Ganga (however, with time people have evolved and become less rigid about this rule).

The grandest festival for those who observe it, Chhath Puja is also a stringent one that encourages frugality and abstinence from food and water.

The puja is celebrated with fine fervour in areas of Bihar and Nepal. Photo: Reuters

Here’s everything you need to know about the legend, significance and rituals around Chhath Puja.

While the exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined and ambiguous, some believe it dates all the way back to Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The two legends associated with Chhath Puja are as goes after:

Said to be a descendant of the Sun god, some say Lord Rama has a lot to do with the inception of Chhath Puja. On returning to Ayodhya after the exile, Lord Rama and Sita observed a swift in honour of the Sun god and broke it only at the break of dawn next day–a ritual that subsequently evolved into the Chhath Puja.

Prominent mythological character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna religiously suggested his prayers while standing in the water and distributed prasad among the needy.

Yet another story mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas performed a similar puja to win their kingdom back.

It involves people taking dips in water. Photo: Reuters

Some say Chhath Puja also has roots in science as it helps the human bod get rid of toxicity. Taking dips in water and exposing oneself to the Sun increases the flow of solar bio-electricity that improves the overall functionality of the human figure. Some also believe that Chhath Puja helps eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from the body–thus preparing one for the onset of the winter season.

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Day 1: Naha Kha/ Nahaye Khaye (November Four, 2016)

On the very first day of Chhath, devotees do not consume food before taking a bath, after which they prepare food items like chane ki daal, kheer, kaddu ki sabzi among others.

Day Two: Kharna (November Five, 2016)

Devotees prompt till the Kharna puja concludes. After which a combination of jaggery-laden kheer and puris is suggested to the gods and distributed among those who’d observed the rapid.

Chhath Puja lasts for four days. Photo: Reuters

Day Three: Pehla Arghya(November 6, 2016)

The roughest and third day of Chhath has devotees–mostly women–observe a rigid swift where they neither consume water nor food. Dedicated to Sun god’s consort, Chhathi Maiya this day is marked with folk songs and taking dips in the holy waters of Ganga, Kosi and Karnali–that go on till the sun sets.

Day Four: Doosra Arghya/ Paaran (November 7, 2016)

Devotees break their long quick after suggesting prayers to the rising Sun.

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