Chhath Puja 2012
Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival held to commemorate the Hindu God of Sun, Surya Shashti. It is performed to thank Surya for all the blessings he bestowed upon the earth and to request for granting the wishes of the people. Considered as the god of life force and energy, he is worshipped to promote the progress, prosperity and well-being of the Hindus. He is also believed to cure various diseases such as leprosy. In addition, he is believed to ensure the prosperity and longevity of the life of friends, elders, and family members.
The Chhath Puja is observed with rigorous periods of rituals for four days. During this time, you will witness abstinence, fasting and holy bathing from the Vratta. You will also experience standing in the water for long periods of time as well as offering of prayers (prashad) and alcoholic beverage (aragh) to the rising and setting sun. It is performed on the sixth day of the Kartika month known as kartika Shukala Shashti. It usually falls in the month of October or November. It involves fasting of water for around 36 hours.
During the Chhath Puja, you observe a purity of rituals and sleeps on the floor with one blanket. You may be surprised to see no pandit or priest for this is the only holy festival that does not require one. In order to celebrate the glory of the birth cycle with death, worshippers offer prayers to the sun. You can find a number of Sun temples in Bihar which is flanked by a sacred pool of the Sun. Some of the popular temples include the Ranchi, Rampurhat, Dumka, Muzaffarpur, Munger, and many more. Once you have performed the ritual, it is your duty to perform it every year and pass it to the younger generations. You can only skip the ritual if someone dies in the family on the year.
Celebrated for four days, you take a dip on Ganges River on the first day of Chhath Puja. You are only allowed to eat one meal on the day. On the second day, you fast for the whole day and offer foods to the Sun temples. Sweets you can offer includes Thekua (a dry sweet from India), Kheer (a sweet dish made by boiling the rice with milk and sugar and flavoured with all kinds of nuts), and fruits.
You should know that if you want to offer food to the God of Sun, you should only offer a strictly vegetarian dish. It should only be cooked with onions, garlic and salt. It is important to keep the food pure. On the third day, you offer prayers to the setting sun after preparing offerings at home. You are also expected to wear colourful saris and turmeric. During the festival, India is almost a carnival. During the last day, you will make offerings to the rising sun with your loved ones. Also, on this day the fasting ends.