It’s all about Happiness and Praying for Your Loved Ones
India is a country where people are not just individuals-they are believers. They live their lives backed by religious ethics and it is their belief in God and religious virtues that provides impetus to their well-being. It is not surprising that an Indian calendar is filled with reasons for festivities and celebrations. Every state has its own way of presenting their culture and Chhath Puja is the most prominent festival of Bihar which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigour. While being the main highlight of the state’s rich folk culture and heritage, the festival is the most awaited event throughout the year.
The word Chhath denotes six as it begins on the sixth day from Amavasya (Diwali). The festival is dedicated to Sun God, and it needs strenuous observance and abstinence for more than 24 hours. The Parvaitin (the one who observes the fast) has strength and devotion enough to keep herself segregated from the main household for two days and is supposed to take bath in the Holy River Ganges only.
Nahaye-Khaye– The ritual happens on the first day of Chhath where the Parvaitins after taking a holy bath prepare a proper meal without using onions and garlic. After the meal, she observes the fast till next morning.
Kharna- On the second day of the festival, the Parvaitin prepares the prasaad which includes Kheer and Chapattis, by eating which she breaks her fast. The remaining prasaad is distributed among the kin and kith as the purest form of prasaad of Chhathi Maiyya.
Pehla Arghya- On the second day of the festival, the devotees walk to the Ghats to offer holy water which is a mix of milk and gangajal. The rituals are difficult to perform as the occasion is celeberated during winters and the Parvaitins have to stand waist deep in the chilly waters of the river. The rituals become all the more tough as the Parvaitins are supposed to wear unstitched clothes and perform the rituals. Therefore, one can see some brave women performing the rituals while draping just a sari.
Doosra Arghya- the Parvaitins offer the Doosra Arghya early in the morning on the fourth day of the festival. The morning acquires a grace and the sight becomes nothing but magical when the sky is still dark and numerous diyas float in the river while enlightening the entire atmosphere. The Ghats seems to acquire different personae as they are decorated with terracotta lamps and canopies of sugarcane sticks where they keep their soops. It contains the Chhath prasaad which include the first crop of the season. The entire atmosphere becomes festive when the morning Arghya is offered amidst hymns and folk songs praying to the Sun God. These songs are sung to avoid evil and ward-off dark spirits.
Replete with numerous interesting rituals and traditions, the festival of Chhath Puja is like a religious festival. It’s fascinating to see the strength of their faith some of the devotees reach the Ghats by rolling themselves all the way from their houses. The interesting to note is that the distance covers several kilometres! The roads are extravagantly decorated and are lined with various shops selling beautiful items and toys. All in all, it festival becomes synonymous with joys and excitement.
A strong belief in God, praying for loved ones, celebrations and celebrations- with everything on offer, the fervour of this festival is nothing but happiness all around. Bringing families and friends together, Chhath Puja represents what Indian-ness stands for!