Chhath Puja, Bihar – A Celebration Of Beliefs & Rituals

Festivals give a sense of enjoyment, relaxation and send positive vibes. The festive season allows everyone to forget about their problems and chillax with friends and family. Culture is the perfect definition to understand a particular religion. Chath puja or Dala puja is the biggest festival in Bihar. Bihar being the birthplace of Karna, son of the Sun God shares an epic bond with this festival.

History and Devotion Associated With Chhath Puja:

Chhath Puja, Bihar - A Celebration Of Beliefs & Rituals 1
Photo Credits: Nishi Kumari

Chhath is probably the oldest form of nature worship. People worshipping the sun, God Surya and his sister Chathi Maiya.

It’s history dates back to ancient Vedas containing hymns linked to sun worship and describing similar rituals. As described in Mahabharat that Draupadi and Arjuna religiously performed the rituals of this Puja on the recommendation of the great saint Dhaumya.

The festival of Chhath Puja is majorly observed by the females in society. There is a large section of men who also perform this Puja. This depicts that Chhath Puja is not at all gender-specific. The devotees while performing the Puja pray for the well-being of their family and success and health of their children. People worship Surya and thank the Lord for being the primordial force sustaining life on earth and express their gratitude towards mother nature. 

It is celebrated twice a year: once in summer called the chaiti chhath and once around Diwali called Kartik chath, on the sixth day of Kartik month. The festival can be skipped only if there has been a death in the family.

It’s a four-day-long festival.

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The Rituals & Their Explanations:

The first day is known as Nahai Khai or kaddu bhath by natives. Devotees take dips in holy Ganga and perform rites then they return homes and clean their house and surroundings to purify everything. On this day, people make a diverse variety of dishes in their homes such as sweets, kheer, thekua, rice laddu which they use in parsadam. Food these days is strictly vegetarian excluding onion and garlic. Family members fast on this day. Food is cook on a handmade earthen stove. Kaddu bhaat (pumpkin and boiled rice) is the main offering this day and so it is named so.

Chhath Puja, Bihar - A Celebration Of Beliefs & Rituals 2
Photo Credits: Shiwani Sah

Second Day is called as Kharna. Devotees observe dry fast and break their fast after eating prasad(offering), generally kheer.

On the third day after taking dips in Ganga worshippers fast for the whole day. In the evening people gather on the ghats and the women observing fast called vratis offers sandhya argh (evening offering of sweets and fruits in Bamboo winnows) to the setting sun. Vratis break their fast with prasad and return home to perform Kosi – a ritual popular in north India and again observe fast.

On the fourth day, Usha argh(morning offering) is given to rising Sun and after that vratis break their fast. Mainly worshippers are women but men can also perform the rituals. People of other cultures also observe this festival.

Green and Clean: An Eco-friendly Festival

It is the most eco-friendly Hindu festival as it doesn’t involve any idol immersion, colour or anything which harms nature. Even the rays on the time of sunset and sunrise are free of UV rays. Rays of the sun are so beneficial and pure that it purifies the soul and mind of a person.

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Bihar: Celebration & Beliefs of Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja, Bihar - A Celebration Of Beliefs & Rituals 3
Photo Credits: Shiwani Sah

Biharis are the biggest admirer of this festival. They celebrate this festival with enthusiasm on the ghats of Patna. Women’s wear the sarees worn by the Vratins or female celebrants can be of any colour mostly red. Women don’t need to wear traditional costumes in this colour.  Men dress in or shirts, kurta pyjamas, and trousers, as there is no set dress code for this festival. The mesmerizing view can soothe the soul and warms the heart. Ghats look alluring and it’s a treat and a treasure trove for the lover of traditions.

Other places to behold the enchanting views are ghats of Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, and Gaya.

There are certain other Indian states where Chhath is of great importance. Such states include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Orissa, and Chandigarh. People in India who speak Bhojpuri and Maithili dialects celebrate this festival.

An admirer of Chathi Maiya brings their culture everywhere they go. A glimpse of it can be seen in other parts of India and some other countries also such as Mauritius, Fiji, Jamaica, US, UK, Indonesia, and some other places.

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