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INDIA IS A LAND OF FESTIVALS, CHHATH PUJA IS ONE OF THE OLDEST FESTIVALS WE CELEBRATE
India is said to be the most diverse nations, one of the perks of living in such a diverse nation are the festivals. All festivals are celebrated with so much joy and enthusiasm. One such is the Chhath Puja; it is a very important festival in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and various other parts of northeast India.
In the year 2020, Chhath Puja is supposed to be celebrated on Friday, 20th November. Weeks before Chhath Puja, preparations start. The building of Ghats on the banks of rivers or any clear water bodies, preparing delicacies like these, puris and so much more.
Now let’s understand the history of Chhath Puja, it is done to give thanks to the Sun and Shashthi Devi or commonly known as Chhathi Maiya for bequeathing us with the gifts on earth and also ask for wishes to be granted.
The history of Chhath Puja is said to date back even before the Vedas. It is believed that Draupadi and the Pandavas followed the rituals of Chhath Puja on the advice of Dhaumya. Many problems of Draupadi were resolved after she performed the rituals; also, I helped the Pandavas regain their kingdom.
The scientific reason behind this is given by yogis; they believe that this technique of staying without food and taking in the vigor from the sun rays is the Chhath method. It is said that even Lord Rama and Sita followed the same rituals during their coronation.
Unlike other festivals in India, Chhath Puja doesn’t involve worshipping an idol, but the Sun god, Chhathi Maiya and also their consorts Usha, the goddess of Sawn and Pratyusha, the goddess of dusk. Hindu folklore says that the source of Surya’s forces is his wives Usha and Pratyusha.
Therefore, both Usha (first ray of the sun) and Pratyusha (last ray of the sun) are worshipped. Devotees offer their prayers to the Sun at dawn and dusk. Chhath Puja is a four-day puja and worshipper follows rigorous rituals to please the lords.
All four days have a different set of rituals followed; on the first day which is the Naha Khay, the Vratti bathe in the Ganga and bring some of the holy water to make Prasad with it. The second day is Kharna, the worshippers observe a full day fast without even taking water, and they break the fast in the evening after offering prayers to Chhathi Maiya by eating Prasad which generally consists of of Kheer, Puris, Chapattis, and banana.
The third day is Sandhya Arghya; the Vrattis observe a fast and spend the whole day preparing for the puja. The different offerings like these, puris, coconuts, and other fruits are kept in bamboo baskets. The third day ends with the evening puja when everyone gathers on a river to offer Sandhya Arghya to Surya.
The final day or Bihaniya witnesses all the followers gathering on the banks of a river to offer bhorwa arghya to the rising sun. After the offerings are made, worshippers enter the river and go in knee-deep to pray to the Chhathi Maiya.
After the puja is done, everyone comes back home and enjoy the delicacies prepared for the day and seek blessings of the elders.
This festival is said to have not only a religious significance but also a scientific significance, in fact, this what makes Chhath Puja unique. The rituals demand long hours of praying on the depository of the river or standing on the embankment of the river and an explanation is given to it. At sunrise and sunset, the sun's ultraviolet rays are at their lowest and that's why the sun's rays are most effective at these two hours. Such sun rays then aid by destroying the negative energies to detoxify the skin, body, and soul.
Chhath Puja is unique in the way that it is the one and only Vedic festival to be celebrated in India. It is linked to the two most important epics Ramayana and Mahabharata with characters following the rituals. Chhath Puja has not only a religious significance but also a scientific significance; all the rituals have a logical explanation. They are believed to detoxify the body.
The rituals of Chhath Puja is designed in such a way that ensures maximum absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D and increase the immunity of the body. It is very beneficial for the mind as well; it gives the worshippers a feeling of peace and satisfaction.
Many people said that it helped them focus and think better. It helps them get rid of all negative feelings and fills them with positivity.
Chhath puja is all about praying to the Sun, so some of the most celebrated and famous Sun temples around India are:
· Sun temple in Konark, Odisha
· Sun temple in Modhera, Gujarat
· Sun temple in Ranchi
· Dakshinaarka Sun temple in Gaya, Bihar
· Sun temple in Katarmal, Uttarakhand
· Sun temple in Gwalior