Chhath Puja is the Vrat ascribed to Sri Chhath Matha and Bhagwan Surya. The festival occurs on the Shukla Paksha Sashti of Karthika month as per Purnimantha Calendar. Chhath Puja is mainly celebrated in the States of Jharkhand, Bihar, some places in Uttar Pradesh and in Nepal.
Chhath Puja is observed for four days. The Vrat and Puja are towards invoking Sri Chhath Matha, the God who blesses long life to children. Women observe day long fasting invoking Sun God for the happiness and welfare of their families.
As per the legend, there was once a King named Swayambhuva Manu. He had a son named Priyavandh.
Priyavandh had no progeny. He had approached Maharishi Kashyap. The Sage performed Puthra Kameshti Yagna.
Due to the effect of Yagna, Priyavandh was blessed with a son. However, the child was still born. Priyavandh thought that he was cursed.
He took the dead baby to the forest and cried. He had lit the pyre and was prepared to immolate himself there. He cried that he need not live as he had no progeny.
At that time Sashti Devi appeared before him and asked him why he was so forlorn. He had explained all. Sashti Devi took pity on him. She took the dead child in Her hands. The child immediately became alive. Chhath Devi also blessed the child with long life. It happened on the Shukla Paksha Sashti of Karthika month.
Priyavandh was elated and happy with the blessings of Chhath Devi. From then onwards, special Vrat and Puja are being observed for the welfare and long-life of family members.
The rituals are followed for four days commencing from the Shukla Paksha Chathurthi of Karthika month. They are narrated as below.
The first day of the Vrat is called as Nahay Khay. It occurs on the Shukla Paksha Chathurthi of Karthika month. For the Year 2022, it occurs on Friday, 28th October 2022.
The exact duration of the Chathurthi Tithi and the time of sun-rise and sun-set are to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
The houses and the puja places are cleaned and sanctified. The devotees take holy dip in Ganga or any other sacred water body in their area. Food made in clay or bronze vessel is taken only once on that day. Fried food is mostly avoided.
Kharna / Lohandha
The second day of the Vrat is called as Kharna. It occurs on the Shukla Paksha Panchami of Karthika month. For the Year 2022, it occurs on Saturday, 29th October 2022.
The exact duration of the Panchami Tithi and the time of sun-rise and sun-set are to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
The devotees observe fasting from sun-rise to sun-set by foregoing even drinking of water (Nirjala Vrat). They break their fast only after offering prasad to Bhagwan Surya at sun-set. Kheer / rice pudding made with jaggery / sugarcane juice is offered as Neivedyam.
From then onwards Vrat is observed for a period of thirty six hours.
The third day of the festival is called as Sandhya Argya, the main festival of Chhath Puja. It occurs on the Shukla Paksha Sashti of Karthika month. For the Year 2022, it occurs on Sunday, 30th October 2022.
The exact duration of the Sashti Tithi and the time of sun-rise and sun-set are to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
The devotees observe fast for the whole day and keeping doing prayers. At the puja place, the bamboo basket full of fruits and flowers is kept.
On this day, Bhagwan Surya is worshipped as Chhati Maiya alongwith His consorts Usha (Goddess of dawn) and Pratyusha (Goddess of dusk).
Just before sunset, the devotees drink a liquid which has coconut pieces. The women carry the bamboo puja basket and take their menfolk to the Chhathi Ghat. Chhathi Ghat is the banks of the nearby Ganga. Yamuna or any other water body.
Women invoke Sri Chhath Matha on the Kalash at the water body bank and put full coconuts beside the Kalash. The Kalash is decorated with flowers and lamps are lit. Fruits are also offered in Neivedyam. Special songs praying to and praising Sri Chhath Matha are recited and chanted with devotion.
Women then stand in the water facing the falling sun. They offer water in arghyam and chant prayers.
The fourth day of the festival is called as Usha Arghya. It occurs on the Shukla Paksha Sapthami of Karthika month. For the Year 2022, it occurs on Monday, 31st October 2022. The exact duration of the Sapthami Tithi is to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
Women offer prayer to Bhagwan Surya with water at Sun-rise. For this, they again visit the Chhath Ghat. They break their fast on this day.
It mostly consists of sweet dishes such as Tekua (salt dish), Malpua, Kheer, Halwa, Dates, Kacha Vinaya (rice laddu) etc., are offered to Sri Chhath Devi as Neivedyam.
Chhath Puja is also observed as Sri Surya Sashti.