Chhath Puja is also known as Dala Puja. It is a Hindu festival popularly celebrated in the Northern and Eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand and even Nepal. The word 'Chhath' means 'sixth'. This day is celebrated on the 6th day or 'Shasthi' of the lunar fortnight of Kartik (October - November) in the Hindu calendar – six days after Diwali, the festival of lights.
Legends of Chhath Puja
It is believed that during the times of the Mahabharata, Chhath Puja was performed by Draupdi, the wife of Pandava Kings. Once during the long exile from their kingdom, thousands of wandering hermits visited their hut and being devout Hindus, the Pandavas were obliged to feed the monks. But Pandavas were incapable to offer food to so many hungry hermits. Seeking a speedy solution, Draupadi approached Saint Dhaumya, who advised her to worship Surya and observe the rituals of the Chhath for prosperity and abundance.
How Chhath Puja is celebrated?
Chhath Puja goes on for four days. It is a joyous and colourful form of festival as people on this day get dressed up in their best clothes and gather by rivers and other water bodies to celebrate Chhath. Devotees take a holy dip at dawn before preparing the ritual offerings or 'prasad,' which mainly comprising 'Thekua,' a hard and crude but tasty wheat-based cake usually cooked on traditional earthen ovens called 'chulhas.'
Rituals and Traditions of Chhath Puja
It is said that worshipers of the Chhath Puja take holy bath and follows a period of self-discipline and become separate for 4 days from the main family. Throughout the time, he is believed as the pure strength and sleep on the floor having single blanket. There is a belief that once a family begins Chhatt Puja, he has to perform it every year as well as pass it to his next generations and it can only be skipped when there is a death of any person in the family that year.
Devotees offer prayers and prasad to Sun at the Chhath such as sweets, Kheer, Thekua and fruits included in a small bamboo tokari. Salt, onions or garlic should not be used with maintained purity.
It is a four days festival which includes: