chhath

Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya and Chhathi Maiya (ancient Vedic Goddess ; Usha – wife of Sun God ).The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.This festival is observed by Nepalese people and Indian people along with their diaspora.

The Sun, considered as the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.

The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.

Although the festival is observed most elaborately in in Mithila Region of Nepal, Terai-Madhesh of Nepal, Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern UP, it is also more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence. It is celebrated in all Northern regions and major Northern urban centers in India bordering Nepal. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat,Bangalore,Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica.

Chhath puja is performed on Kartika Shukla Shashthi, which is the sixth day of the month of Kartika in the Vikram Samvat. This falls typically in the month of October or November in the Gregorian English Calendar. The exact date of the festival is decided by Central division of Janakpurdham in Mithila Region of Nepal which is applicable to Worldwide adherents.

It is also celebrated in the summer (March–April), on Chaitra Shashthi, some days after Holi; this event is called Chaiti Chhath.The former is more popular because winter is the usual festive season in Nepal and also in Bihar of North India. Chhath, being an arduous observance, requiring the worshipers to fast without water for around 36 hours continuously, is easier to undertake in the Indian winters but little harder in Nepalese Winter for Nepali Maithils due to cold climate in Terai and Mithila region of Nepal.

There are few differences in rituals and traditions which have been observed between devotees performing Chhath Puja in Northern parts of Bihar and those of South Bihar. The north and south Bihar are divided by the river Ganges and so is the distinction between regions. Some traditions of the Puja are quite strict in North Bihar whereas it is more liberal in South Bihar. In general, it is the tradition that Thekua which is the Prasad (Offering to the God) should be strictly prepared on “mitti chulha” (traditional earthen stove) by using clean “wood sticks” as the fuel.