Yamuna Chhath is the festival signifying the descending of Yamuna river on earth. Yamuna river is known by the names such as Yamunaji, Yami, Surya Tanaya, Suryaja and Ravi Nandini. The river is considered as the daughter of Lord Surya and the sister of Yama, who is the Dharma Raja.
Yamuna Chhath is observed on the Shukla Paksha Sashti of the Chaitra month. In the year 2021, it occurs on Sunday, 18th April 2021. The exact duration of the Sashti Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendar.
Yamuna Chhath is also celebrated as Yamuna Jayanthi.
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Yamuna Chhath – Legends
Yamuna river originates from Yamunotri. It is one of the longest rivers in India. The soil of Yamuna river is very fertile.
There are several legends pertaining to Yamuna river. On Yamuna Chhath day, the glorious legends associated with Yamuna river are remembered.
Vaman Puran – Lord Shiva
Daksha had insulted both his daughter and son-in-law in an Yagna. Sati had immolated Herself. Lord Shiva was forlorn and went into penance. Sati had again born as Parvathi and was doing Tapas to marry Shiva.
Lord Shiva’s penance was too severe. Because of this, the entire activities of the universe got stuck. Devas realized that unless Shiv and Uma got united, there was no progress.
So, they engaged the God of Love Manmadha to rekindle life interest in Sri Shiva. Though reluctant, Kamadeva budged. He did shoot the five faced arrow on Sri Shiv.
Though the shot landed well, Lord Shiva got perturbed. In His anger, he had burned down Kamadeva.
Then Lord Shiv plunged into Yamuna river to cool off His anger. Hence the river got its dark color.
Yamuna river played an important role on the date of birth of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna was born to Vasudeva and Devaki at Mathura. As prophesized, Vasudeva had taken Sri Bala Krishna in the basket and tried to cross the Yamuna river. When he reached the bank, it was raining heavily.
Yamuna river on its own parted in the middle to make way for Vasudeva. Adisesha had made himself into an umbrella to protect the baby. Thus, Vasudeva crossed the river without any hitch.
As per another legend, the serpent Kalinga was staying in Yamuna and was causing danger to everyone. Lord Krishna had destroyed the snake. With the feel of the feet of Sri Krishna, Yamuna had become sanctified again.
Apart from the above, Yamuna river and its banks were part and parcel of Sri Krishna’s boyhood.
Yamuna Chhath – Rituals
The rituals commence with rising before sunrise and taking the holy bath in Yamuna river. If that is not possible, atleast a portion of Yamuna Jal is added to the regular bath water. Chanting of Krishna Slokas and wearing Rudraksha are considered beneficial.
Fasting is also observed for the day.
At the banks of Yamuna river, havans and aarti are conducted.