With lakhs of devotees thronging in to the banks of river Ganga and a pious mahogany-filled ambience, the most revered Chhath Puja marks its presence. This validates as a discernible revelation of the deep-rooted culture and a sturdy connect of its devotees to Puja. An arduous adherence of complete fast sans food or water for more than 24 hours, this vigorous abstinence and isolation of Parvaitin (one who observes fast) serves as an exhaustive dedication to the all-mighty Sun God.
The term ‘Chhath ‘ refers to the number ‘six’ as the festival commences from the sixth day of the Amavasya. The order of events in the festival is as follows-:
Nahaye Khaye This marks the first day of the Chhath Puja. On this day, the person fasting cooks a meal that is without onion or garlic. The fast begins officially on this day and the Parvaitin after eating once only eats the next evening.
Kharna The second day of the fast, on Kharna the person observing the fast cooks the prasad that usually is made up of Kheer and Chapatis. The Parvaitin is supposed to break the fast with this prasad and the remainder of that is distributed as the Chatthi Maiya’s prasad.
Pehla Arghya This is the third day of the Chhath Puja and the beginning of the two day fast. On this day, devotees walk to the Ghats to offer milk and Gangajal to the setting sun and the Arghya is offered to the setting sun. This is undoubtedly the most difficult part of the Puja when the Parvaitin and the devotees stand waist deep in the chilly cold waters of the rivers and other water sources. Since, the Chhath Puja is celebrated in Winters, standing deep for hours , waist deep with usually just a saree draped around the Parvaitins is definitely a tough ask.
Dusra Arghya On the fourth day of the Puja early morning, the devotees start their journey towards the Ghats. With the ghats illuminated with diyas and fireworks what one witnesses is nothing short of a magical procession. Soop or baskets mark one important part of the procession which in the devotees put their offerings such as bananas, apples, sugarcane, pineapples etc. With all this, Arghya is offered again to the rising sun with hymns being enchanted aloud , praying to the Sun God to ward off the evil and shower light and blessings.
The procedures associated with the pious and revered Chhath Puja are all interesting and invoke great curiosity amongst those who witness it. Though the ceremonies involved with the Puja, to many, may seem glittery and ostentatious, it holds substantial logic and rationale behind it. The Chhath Puja carnival dates back to the times of Mahabharata and has since then, stood the test of time and history. The bemusing ambience that the four days of festivities create and the enthralling sight that it offers stands testimony to the deep faith of its devotees and believers. During the festival, one can see men and women of all ages, immersed in the fervor of festivities in a carnival of joy blended with love and devotion together.