Chhath | Dala Chhath

Significance of Chhath, significance of Dala Chhath, Importance of Chhath, Legends of Chhath,Chhath Celebrations, Chhath rituals, Chhath process, Different days of Chhath, importance of sugarcane in Chhath, Chhath Puja, Chhath process, What is Chhath, How to observe Chhath, Benefits of Chhath.

Chhath also known as Dala Chhath is a festival dedicated to God Surya or the Sun god.Chhath is celebrated on the sixth day of the waxing phase of the moon of the month of Karthika of the lunar calendar or Karthika Sukla Paksha Shashti is celebrated as Chhath. The Sun God is responsible for sustaining the life on the planet and devotees would pray and thank Sun God on Chhath.

The Chhath rituals are tough and last for four days. As a part of the ritual bathing, fasting without even drinking water, standing in the river with water till waist height(which is the minimum water level) for a long time , Arghya Pradhanam or offering of Arghya to Sun God are performed.

The word Chhath is derived from the hindi meaning of six which is Chata or Chey.

The worshippers of the Chhath festival are known as Parvaitin. These are usually women but now a days men are also observing the rituals of Chhath. The Parvaitin would pray to Sun God for the well being of the family, prosperity etc. If a family starts observing the Chhath then from that day onwards it has to be continuously observed by the coming generations. The only exception being if a person in the family is dead.

Deities worshipped on Chhath:

Chhath is a festival of Sun God along with Sun God devotees also worship Goddess Usha considered as the wife of Sun God. She is known as Chhathi Maiya.

Regions Observing Chhath:

Chhath is famous in Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern UP and in few regions of Nepal. Now a days Chhath is celebrated in northeast region and western regions of India.

The rituals during the four day long Chhath festival are as follows:

Day 1 Nahay Khay :

Nahay means bath and Khay mean eat. Devotees would take a dip in the river, if possible in the holy river of Ganga. They would carry the river water to home which would be used for offering. The house as a part of the festival is cleaned. Parvaitins fast and have only a single meal. The meal that is taken by the Parvaitins is known as Kaddu-bhat. The parvaitins would eat Kaddu, Chana Dal and arawa Chawal. Care is taken that the food is prepared traditionally on earthen stoves. Mangoo wood is to be used for cooking. Also only new bronzen or earthen utensils are used for cooking. Eating of Non Vegetarian is strictly prohibited for the four days. Cooking of Non Veg itself is considered a sin.

Day two Kharna or Lohanda

The day before Chhath is Panchami and is known as Kharna or Lohanda. Parvaitins observe a fast on Kharna and eat only after sunset. Before breaking the fast the Earth is worshipped. Rasiao-Kheer a sweet dish made by mixing cooked rice and jaggery ( sugar is prohibited), Puris and Bananas are offered as Naivaidya. These are only eaten by the Parvaitins.These are also distributed among friends and families. The actual fast for 36hrs would start from this period after breaking the fast. During this 36 hour fast a Parvaitin would not even take a water and so this initiates the fast without water.

Day Three Chhath:

The Parvaitin would be busy with the preparations for the Sanjhiya Arghya and the offerings that would be made. The wheat that is used for preparing the offering is washed and is dried. Care has to be taken that even birds do not touch the wheat. In the evening all the family members would accompany with the Parvaitin to offer the the Arghya with milk. The family members while accompanying the Parvaitin would carry fruits etc.  As per the tradition, the Parvaitin should be dressed as a bride or wear a plain sari with a yellow colored border (color of turmeric). Songs are sung which come from generations to generations. The mother in law and mothers would teach these folk songs to the daughter in laws and daughtes.

The importance of the third day which is Chhath is the Sanjhiya Arghya and then comes Kosi.

Kosi is a bright and colorful event in which a lighted earthen lamp is lit and kept under the canopy of five sticks of sugarcane. The five sticks signify the Panchatattva or the five elements that form the human body (fire, water, air, earth and ether or sky). The lighted diya would represent the solar energy that is required for the human body to survive. Kosi is performed twice once after the sunset and in the night at home and then again on the morning of day four before sun rise.

Day Four Paarun:

The arghya that is offered to the sun God on day four is known as Bihaniya Aragh. On the early morning of fourth day all the family members along with the Parvaitin would reach the river bank before sunset and perform Kosi. After which Arghya is given to sun god while the sun is rising. The Parvaitin would now break the fast that was started on the night of the second day or Kharna.

Friends and relatives visit each other and have Prasad. It is a common scene on the river banks to see devotees competing to get prashad from a parvaitin. It looks as if one is begging for the Prashad and this Prashad is considered to be very auspicious and eating this Prashad would help them to be healthy and bring virtue.

Legends Involving Chhath

It is believed that Chhath was observed by Draupadi on the advice of Sage Dhaumya which helped Pandavas to regain their lost kingdom.

It is also believed that Chhath was first started by Karna. Karna was not only the son of Sun God but was also a great devotee of the Sun.He would never miss giving the Arghya to the sun God during sun rise and sun set.

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