Chhath Puja 2022 in India: Sunday, 30 October 2022When you are an Indian, no matter where in the world you are, there are probably always occasions when you will need a proper thali that you will want to use for pooja or festive occasions. If you are looking to buy decorative pooja thali online, then you should most probably do it at eCraftIndia, which is home to some of the most stunning decor pieces. This is also the place where you can find specific pieces and items of importance for almost every festival and special occasion.
For instance, before you know it, Chhath puja 2022 will be here and you might realise that you are not ready for the celebrations and the festivities. Before you start off with your decorations shopping list, almost all of which you should be able to complete at eCraftIndia, you should take the time to learn a little bit more about what Chhath really is all about and what the festivities entail.
What is Chhath puja?This is a Hindu festival that has been around since ancient times and is celebrated not only by Indians, but also by other people in the subcontinent. The people of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and even southern parts of Nepal celebrate this festival with great aplomb. The main deity for this festival is the sun god, Surya and the festival is mainly to show gratitude towards the sun for bestowing warmth and light on the earth. People also pray to the Sun god to ask for the fulfillment of certain wishes and desires.
In Mithila, Lord Surya’s sister is the sixth form of Goddess Parvati and she is also known as Chhathi Maiya or Ranbay Maay and on the day of the Chhath Puja, prayers are offered to her. The day falls six days after Diwali, which is generally on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartika. The festival normally comes in the months of October or November, each year. The festivities are spread over four days and people keep fasts, take dips in holy rivers and offer prasad to the rising and setting sun.
What is the significance of Chhath puja?As per Hindu beliefs, it is the five elements – the earth (prithvi), water (jal), fire (agni), wind (vayu) and space (akash) that allow life to flourish. The Chhath puja festival is dedicated to celebrating the Sun, which not only provides heat but also helps nourish earth, because without sunlight, crops would not grow. The Sun is not only visible to every being on earth, it is also the basis of life for all of them, which is why he is worshipped during this festival. Chhathi Maiya, who is seen as a mother figure, who protects all the children from diseases and gives them the boon of a long and healthy life is also prayed to on this day. It is believed that Chhathi Maiya is a local name given to Shashthi Devi, the daughter of Brahma.
It is said that the roots of this pooja can be traced all the way back to the early Vedic times, when sages would fast for days at a stretch, without even water, and would performs poojas that had mantras from the Rigveda. There are references to the pooja being done by Karna, the son of the Sun god and the king of Angadesh, which is supposed to be modern day Bhagalpur in Bihar. As per another legend, the Pandavas as well Draupadi also performed this pooja to ensure that all the obstacles in life were removed and they would be able to regain their lost kingdom. Yet another story talks about Sita performing this pooja, the day after Ram Rajya was established, which was six days after Diwali.
What are the stories related to Chhath pooja?There are several stories about Chhath puja, but the most common ones include:
- As per one legend, King Priyavrat and Queen Malini were really sad, because they did not have any children and it was on the advice of Maharishi Kashyap that they conducted a yagna. Soon after, the couple was blessed with a son, but the child was born dead, leaving the couple heartbroken. At that point, Mata Shashthi appeared from the skies and introduced herself as the protector of all children and saying that she breathed life in the dead infant. Grateful for the boon, the king and queen started the custom of worshipping Chhathi Maiya from that day onwards.
- The daughter of Mithila naresh or the king of Mithila was Devi Sita and growing up, she was used to worshipping at the Sita Manpatthar or Sitacharan temple. This temple which is located in present day Munger, continues to be the epicentre of devotees during the Chhath festival. It is said that when Lord Rama returned from Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshman, it was on Diwali day; six days from then, he was proclaimed the king and Sita did the same pooja to ensure an auspicious beginning to Rama Rajya. Soon after, they were blessed with two sons – Luv and Kush.
What are the rituals and celebrations associated with Chhath pooja?The Bihari Chhath puja is considered the most elaborate, but these days, it is being celebrated in other parts of the world too, especially since the presence of the people of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand is now prevalent globally. The Chhath pooja is spread over four days – it starts with the Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends with the Kartik Shukla Saptami. Each day has a separate significance and the main worshipper, which is generally the woman of the house, also known as Parvaitin has a separate set of tasks on each day:
- Day 1 – Nahaay Khaay – On the very first day of the pooja, the Parvaitin has to take a holy bath and after that, clean the entire house. They will cook traditional food, which normally consists of a curry with bottle gourd and Bengal gram lentils. The freshly prepared food is served to the deity as bhog. Diyas as lit and incense is kept in an incense stick holder.
- Day 2 – Kharna/Lohanda – The second day of the pooja is extremely austere and not even a drop of water is consumed, throughout the day. In the evening, the Parvaitin can eat roti and a kheer made with jaggery.
- Day 3 – Sanjhka Aragh – On the third day, prasad is made at home and a bamboo basket is decorated and filled with fruits, rice laddus, and a special sweet called thekua. The basket also has, at times, Haldi kumkum holders and other articles that are considered auspicious. In the evening, the entire family will gather near a riverbank, pond, or large water body, to make offerings to the setting Sun. Gangajal is offered to the sun and sweets are offered to Chhathi Maiya. After returning home, the ritual of kosi bharai is done – a mandap is created using sugarcanes and 12 to 24 diyas are lighted. These days, people are choosing to buy brass diya online from online stores like ours, because of the variety that is available. Sweets and fruits are offered as prasad and the same procedure is repeated early next morning, before making offerings to the rising sun.
- Day 4 - Bhorka Aragh – The next day, once again, the family will head to a water body and make offerings to the rising sun, and prayers are offered to Chhathi Maiya, to ensure the wellbeing and good health of the children of the family. The Parvaitin will finally drink water and eat something to break the fast. These days, people will exchange Chhath puja gifts to complete the celebrations, which can include exquisite diyas and God idols.