Chat Puja – Origin and Significance
Chat puja is a very prominent hindu festival celebrated in north India, specifically by people of Eastern UP and Bihar. It is a festival dedicated to the Sun god and hence also called as “Surya Sashti”. People worship sun god and pray for the well being of family and friends. Chat puja is of great significance in Hinduism and is also celebrated in Nepal and Mauritius.
The festival generally falls in October/November after Diwali. The traditional rituals of Chat Puja are very strenuous which includes fasting , holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water , standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arakh to the setting and rising sun.
Origin of Chat Puja
The rituals of Chat Puja are believed to be from vedic times. Rigveda contains hymns worshiping the Sun god and describes similar rituals.
The rituals also find reference in the Mahabharta in which Draupadi is depicted as observing similar rites.Through her worship of the Sun God, Draupadi was not only able to solve her immediate problems, but also helped the Pandavas later regain their lost kingdom.
It is also believed that Chhath was started by Karna, the son of Surya . Surya Putra Karna ruled over the Anga Desh (present day Bhagalpur district of Bihar) during the Mahabharat Age. He was a great warrior and fought against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War.
The Goddess that is worshipped during the famous Chhath Puja is known as Chhathi Maiya. Chhathi Maiya is known as Usha in the Vedas. She is believed to be the consort of Surya, the sun god. During the Chhath Puja, Chhathi Maiya is invoked to bless us with this divine consciousness which will help us to overcome all the troubles in the world.
Chat Puja is a 4 day long ritual.
Day 1 : Also called as “Nahay khay”. Devotees take a dip, if possible in Holy Ganga. Devotees clean the house and start preparing for the Puja. Eat only one meal a day.
Day 2: Also called as “Kharna” or “Lohanda”. This is the day before Chat.
Day 3: The chat day. On the 3rd day of Chhath Puja, the devotees, along with family and friends, make the offerings (Arakh) to the setting sun.
Day 4: Last day of Chat , called as “Parun”. On the final day of Chhath Puja, the devotees, along with family and friends, make the offerings (Arakh) to the rising sun.
The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the devotees and friends visiting the houses of the devotees to receive the prasad. Witnessing Chhath being celebrated is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience.
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