Sunday, 15 October 2017

Chath – The Festival of People’s Faith

Chhath Parva  or Chhatha Kartik is a Hindu festival being celebrated in Shukla Paksha. This unique Lokpwarv of Sun-UPasana is celebrated mainly in eastern areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Gradually this festival has become popular in the entire Indian Diaspora as well as in the world.


Naming

Chhatha Vachha Chhath, is a disfigurement of the word Shashthi, named as 6th day after Deepwali. The most difficult and important night of this four-day fast is the Kartik Shukla Shishthi being celebrated after Diwali of the new moon of Kartik month. Due to the celebration of the festival of Kartik Shukla Paksha, it was named as Chhath.

Why the Festival of Chath?

Chath is a famous festival of sun-worshiping in India. Originally it is called Chhath due to Shasti's fasting. This festival is celebrated twice a year. For the first time in Chaitra, and the second time in the month of Kartik.  The festival which is celebrated on Chaitra is known as Chaiti Chhath whereas the festival that is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Paksha Sashthi, is called Kartiki Chhath. This festival is celebrated for achieving family happiness and prosperity.


Chath Pooja: A Gender-neutral Festival

Men and women celebrate this festival equally. Many stories are prevalent to Chhath Fast.  According to one of them, when Pandavas lost their entire palace in gambling, then Draupadi kept Chhath fast after being told by Shri Krishna. Then their wishes were fulfilled and Pandavas got back the palace. According to the tradition of the people, the relation between Sun God and Chathi Maiyya is of brother and sister. The Sun worshiped Chathi Maiyya firstly and after that a tradition of worshipping her became prevalent.

The Scientific Angle of Chath Pooja


If the Chhath festival is seen from a scientific point of view, special astronomical transformation takes place on  Sishthi (Chhath) date.  At this time, the ultraviolet rays of the Sun are collected in the greater quantity on the surface of our earth. The fasting on this day provides us the  ability to protect as much as possible. Celebration of festivals is possible to protect the animals from the harmful effects of Sun’s light (ultraviolet ray).

In normal state, the amount of ultraviolet ray reaching the surface of the earth is in the limit of tolerance of humans or organisms. Therefore, it does not have any particular harmful effects on humans in the normal state, but the harmful germs die by that sunlight, which benefits humans or life.

How do Chhat days are celebrated?

This festival is of four days. It starts from the third day of Bhaiyya Dooj. On the first day, Senda is taken as salt, vegetable curry of Arva rice and pumpkin made from ghee. Fasting starts from the next day. Vrati renounces food and water throughout the day, after about 7 p.m. in the evening, after offering the pooja, they receive the Prasad, which is called Kharna.

On the third day, the devotees offer milk to the Sun. Purity is taken special care of on all four days; Garlic, onion is strictly prohibited. Women sing Chath Songs in the house of those devotees who take fast and observe penance. On the third day, the setting sun is worshipped whereas on the fourth or final day, the rising day is worshipped. Offerings of worship are provided to the people.

Format of Celebration

Chhath Puja is a four-day festival. It starts with Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends with Kartik Shukla Saptami. During this fasting, the fast continues for 36 hours. During this time the devotees  do not even accept water.

Nahaye Khaye

On the first day, Kartik Shukla Chaturthi is celebrated as 'Naray-Khay'. Firstly, the house is cleaned and things of religious offerings are kept there. After this, the Chathvratis start their fast taking a pure vegetarian diet after taking bath. All the members of the house take food after the Vrati takes her/his food. Pumpkin-pulse and rice are taken as food. This pulse has  to be of gram.


Lohanda and Khanna

On the second day, in Kartik Shukla Panchami, after  the fasting day, the Vratis take food in the evening. It is called 'Kharna'. All the people nearby are invited to take the offerings of Kharna. In the form of Prasad, with the rice molasses made of sugarcane juice, milk, rice pitcher and ghee are made of chapadi bread. It does not use salt or sugar. During this time, special care is taken to clean the house.

  Sandhya Arghya

On the third day, Kartik Shukla Shishthi is made to offer Chhath in the day. In addition to Prashad, the rice laddoos(Thekuwa) are also prepared by the devotees.  Apart from these, the mold and fruits brought in the form of offerings are also included as Chhath Prasad.

In the evening,  all the items of offering are bedecked in a basket of bamboo , and with Vrati, the family and all the neighbors go towards the Ghat to pay obeisance to the God Sun and offer Him the religious offerings. Almost all religious people gather around the Ghat and the entire area gets emerged in religious festivity. During this, a fair-like scene is created for a few hours.

   Usha Arghya

On the fourth  and final day of Kartik Shukla Saptami, the Vratis throng the Ghats in the wee hours, well before the sunrise time. The entire gang of religious people follows them. Again the process of the previous evening is repeated. All the devotees take a holy dip in river, pay obeisance to the only visible God of the universe, i.e., Sun, offer him the things that they prepare in their homes, seeks His blessings for their loved ones and after that they come back. Prasads get distributed in the people who pay a visit to Ghat and those who stand in the path welcoming the Vratis.
                                                         
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