What Makes Chhath Puja So Special?
Chhath puja is an important Hindu festival that is observed in many parts of India, especially Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. The four-day-long celebration, fasting, and prayers are offered to the Sun God twice every year.
Have you ever wondered why so much is spoken about Chhath puja? What makes this event so special?
Two Types, Two Names
There are two types of Chhath puja – Chaiti chhath (observed during summer) and Kartik Chhath (observed just before winter). As per Hindu tradition, both forms are considered equally important.
Mythology Behind Chhath
Chhath puja is said to have originated in the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are different claims about the exact beginning of this celebration. Some say that Karna (son of the Sun God) had started this festival to show his respect towards his father. There are others who claim that Draupadi and the Pandavas had started this event after regaining Indraprastha. There is also a version which says that Chhath puja was first observed to celebrate the return of Lord Rama and Sita to Ayondhya.
Thanksgiving To The Sun
The concept of Chhath puja revolves around thanking the Sun God for being the ultimate source of energy. It is also done to acknowledge the fact that solar energy helps to keep germs, bacteria, and diseases in check. Interestingly, science has also agreed to the claim that the Sun has a very big role to play, when it comes to keeping germs at bay.
Sunrise And Sunset Aarti
A very important part of the 4-day-long event apart from fasting is the surya aarti. It is done during sunrise and sunset, primarily at river banks. Interestingly, science says that the sunrays are most beneficial for the human body during sunrise and sunset.
Prayers are offered to Chhathi Maiya (a consort of Sun God) to thank her for being the source of life. Also known as Usha, Chhathi Maiya is said to be the first ray of Sun that touches Earth.
Chhath puja prasad is usually made of rice, wheat, fresh fruits, dried fruits, coconut, ghee, and jaggery. An interesting aspect about Chhath Prasad is the absence of salt, onion, and garlic. Rock salt is however permitted.
It is said that Chhath also symbolises the celebration of harvest. It is customary to offer foods made of new harvest as prasad.
It is believed that a continued observance of Chhath puja helps to reduce age, apart from bringing luck and prosperity. Such beliefs make this festival very important for many communities.
Did you think Chhath puja is celebrated only in India? As a matter of fact, this event is observed by the Indian communities in many countries such as New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Caribbean Islands, Republic of Ireland, and Macau.
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