Tue, 30 May, 2023

Chhath Parva: A Four-Day Tribute to the Sun

By Asmita Subedi

Chhath Puja is the Hindu festival celebrated every year on Kartik Shukla Shashthi, that is, the sixth day of the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar. During this festival, worshippers perform puja with enthusiasm and devotion, and request for the grant of their wishes. Recently, this festival was observed by thousands of Nepalese and Indian devotees. As part of the ritual, they took a dip in the holy water during sunrise and sunset, observed fast and conducted puja in most of the river banks and rivers. The festival was celebrated with keenness and devotion in different holy rivers like Rani Pokhari, Sapta Koshi, Karnali and other major rivers. This festival is mainly dedicated to the god Sun, called Surya, and Chhathi Maiya. Sun is considered as the god of energy and the controller of life-force. Hence, the devotees offer salutations to the rising and the setting sun to celebrate the significance of the cycle of life, which continues till death. It is also believed that sun helps to cure many illness and diseases such as leprosy and promote well-being, prosperity and progress. Therefore, people worship sun to ensure their longevity of life and prosperity of family members, friends and beloved. People also pray to Chhathi Maiya to overcome their troubles as well as to get liberation. The festival is celebrated for four days namely, Naha Kha, Kharna or Lohanda, Sandhya Arghya or Chhath and Usha Arghya or Paran. Naha Kha means bath and eat. On this day, worshippers take a dip in the holy water of any river or water at sunrise and bring back some of the holy water home for the preparation of prasad or offerings. The house and the surroundings are cleaned and the worshippers segregate from the households for four days and sleep on the floor on a single blanket to obtain ritualistic purity. The following morning, they observe a fast which ends after the sunset. After eating, they observe another fast which lasts for 36 hours. The day of the ritual, Chhath, is observed by doing the evening offerings, Sandhya Arghya, to the setting sun and Usha Arghya to the rising sun, the following morning. At the night of Chhath, an event called Kosi is celebrated by lighting the diyas of clay under the covering of five sugarcane sticks that indicate the Panchatattva (earth, water, fire, air and ether) of which the human body is made of. This is a symbolic ritual in Chhath Puja, performed especially in those families where either marriage or birth of a child has taken place recently. In the evening, people gather around and perform cultural programs with music and dance. The worshippers spend the entire night at the side of the river bank singing and enjoying the folk songs that reflect the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Mithila Pradesh. The fasting ends after the morning offerings to the sun followed with the distribution of the same offerings among the family, friends, and anyone who asks of it. The prasad offerings include sweets, kheer, thekua, fruits and other dishes cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Chhath puja has a great significance in the Hindu religion since it is believed that Draupadi and the Pandavas of Hastinapur were able to solve their problems and regain their lost kingdom after they observed the Chhath puja. Also, it is considered that Lord Rama and Mata Sita had fasted and offered puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartik in Shukla Paksh during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Since then, Chhath became one of the significant and traditional festivals in the Hindu religion and people started celebrating it every year at the same date. Apart from the religious and cultural significance of celebrating series of ritualistic puja during Chhath, it is also beneficial from the scientific and health point of view. The solar energy has a great influence on the glands, which results in balanced secretion of hormones. This helps to detoxify the body and mind. A state of mental calmness prevails and also the immunity improves. So guys! Be blessed spiritually and physically. Enjoy your Thekuas along with colorful lights, and have fun and enjoyment all around.  :)