Chaath Puja is not just a festival but a celebration filled with great emotion. You might have seen people worshipping early in the morning during the sunrise, but this is the only festival where people offer prayers during Sunrise and Sunset. Moreover, this joyous festival is named Chaath, meaning sixth, because it’s celebrated on the 6th day of Kartikeya month according to the Hindu calendar.
As we welcome the Mahaparav 2023 chhath puja date, having the right knowledge for the celebration is essential. The celebration of chhath puja begins after the festival of Light, Diwali, from Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends with Kartik Shukla Saptami.
Chhath Puja 2023 date: 17th November (Friday) to 20th November (Monday), 2023
The History Behind the Celebration of Chhath Puja
The festival of Chhath Puja links ancient cultures and stories to make it more interesting and exciting. Several stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata are put forward to portray the significance of the celebration of Mahaparv Chhath puja. The importance of Chhath Puja in Ramayana is associated with Lord Rama returning back to Ayodhaya while he, along with his wife Sita, performed the rituals and observed fast. They had offered prayers and rituals to the Sun God in association with Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom.
Moreover, another exciting story tale that explains the importance of chhath puja is from Mahabharata. This story marks the importance of offering prayers to Sun God during Chaath Puja. Karna, the only son of Surya Dev and his wife Kunti, used to offer prayers during sunrise and sunset while standing in the water. So this is how the practice of standing in water and performing the rituals of Chhath Puja began.
Furthermore, during the festival of Chhath Puja, Goddess Draupadi observed fast to get rid of all the problems and obstacles that came their way. She wholeheartedly followed all the rituals and observed the fast to save the Pandavas and their kingdom. Moreover, Lord Sita, in expectation of the child, observed the Chhath Vrat, where she was blessed with Luv and Kush.
Significance of Chhath Puja
Here, you’ll come across some religious and scientific significance that can make you familiar with the importance of celebrating Chhath Puja. Unlike any other festival in Hindu culture, Chhath Puja doesn’t require any idol or image of God while performing the rituals.
Guess why? There is a logic behind this because, as you know, during chhath Puja, devotees worship the Sun God, known as the Pratyaksha or visible God, where people can seek blessings directly from the Sun God. Also, Surya Dev is worshipped during Chhath Puja because he is believed to be the source of life on Earth. It is believed that as the Sun rises, a new life starts to take place that obtains a new hope.
Moreover, along with the Sun God, Chhati Maiya, also known as Shashthi Devi in Bihar and Jharkhand, is worshipped during the festival of Chhath Puja. Devotees honour her to ask for offspring and the longevity of their family members. Especially the female members of the family observe a Nirjaal vrat for 36 hours for the safety and good health of their family members.
Chhath Puja Rituals
Now, here you’ll discover how the rituals of Chhath Puja are performed. We’ll mention all four chhath puja days and the right way to practice them.
Day 1: Nahay Khay (Khana)
The first day of chhath puja starts with the Bath and Eat rituals, known as the Nahay Khay, where devotees or the people who observe fast take a holy dip in the river. People bring along some water from the holy river to sprinkle the water in the food that will be prepared so that the food (Prasad) is filled with blessings and purity. This ritual marks the beginning of Chhath Puja.
Day 2: Lohanda (Kharna)
On the second day, devotees wake up early in the morning, take a bath and offer prayers. Then, they observe fast from the whole day till the sunset. However, as the sun sets, they again take a bath and offer prayers to Chhati Maiya. On this day, Rasiao Kheer (rice boiled with milk), Roti (chappati), banana and white radish are prepared, offered to the Goddess and then consumed by the people who have observed the fast.
Day 3: Sandhya Arghya
The third day is referred to as the Sandhya Arghya, where the devotees offer prayers during the sunset. On this day, people who have observed fast (Vrattis) do not eat or drink anything and indulge themselves in the preparation of Puja. Moreover, the basket of bamboo sticks, also known as Daura, is beautifully decorated.
There is also a metal basket known as Supli where all the Puja necessary items are placed. Moreover, in the Daura and Supli, various homemade items such as Thekua and Puri, along with chhath puja fruits such as Apples, banana, Pani Faal singhara (water chestnut) and white radish.
On the same day, after the evening ritual of Sandhya Arghya is over, devotees come back home from the river (Chhath Ghat). They start the preparation for Kosi, which is also known as Kosi Bharna. This is a very sacred, warm and beautiful evening where 24 sugarcanes are tied together with yellow cloth and below that, several diyas are light. All the family members sit together to sing devotional songs, and then the next morning, the Kosi is taken to the Ghat.
Day 4: Bihaniya Arghya
This is the final day of the Chhath Puja, where all the devotees go to the nearby river early in the morning. All the people eagerly wait for the sunrise to offer Arghya (water to the sun god). After all the rituals, people kneel down to the chhath puja god, Surya Dev and Chhathi Maiya, to ask for blessings and forgiveness. Then, all the people go back to their homes and the devotees who have observed the fast break their fast by eating Prasad.
Benefits of Performing Chhath Puja
The celebration and the performing of the holy ritual of Chhath Puja offers various benefits. Read below to learn about the benefits.
- The sun is the Source of Life on Earth, and thus, it offers devotees good health, harmony and success.
- Taking a dip in the holy river during Chhath Puja is believed to purify your mind, body and soul. It helps you to remove all the negative energies.
- Devotees who are expecting children can observe fast and follow the rituals of going to the banks of the River (ghat). These devotees perform a special ritual known as “Dandwat Pranam” or “Dand Khinchna” on their journey to the Ghat. They lie down on the ground, stand up again, and then lie down once again. This process is followed until they reach their destination.
- Astrologically, during Chhath Puja, the Sun is in the Southern Hemisphere, which could be harmful to people on Earth. So, the prayers during the Chhath Puja protect the devotees from getting harmed by sun rays.
- The rituals and prayers of Chhath Puja activate the pranic flow in the body, making the devotees stay calm. It keeps the devotees keep their anger and stress in control.
Chhath Puja: Do’s and Don’ts
Here are certain things you must follow and a few that you must avoid during the Chhath Puja.
- You must avoid speaking anything ill during the four-day festival. This is when you must dedicate yourself to holy rituals and devotion.
- You must stay away yourself from eating non-vegetarian foods. In fact, you must also avoid onion and garlic during Chhath Puja.
- Before touching anything that is a part of puja and rituals, make sure to wash your hands.
- You must wear clean clothes and not the same clothes the other day. You must take a bath two times a day, in the morning and evening.
- You must not eat any fruits or food items prepared as an offering before the morning ritual of Bihaniya Arghya is over. After the last morning ritual, you can eat the fruits and Thekua as a Chhati Maiya’s blessings.