Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SACRED FESTIVAL: CHATTH FESTIVAL




Chatth festival is one of the ancient and sacred festivals which have its origin in Bihar, Eastern UP & Nepal. It is regarded as one of the sacred festivals and observed with great devotion and austerity. This festival falls on the sixth day of Diwali as its name Chatth, which means sixth day. Chhath puja is performed on Kartika Shukla Shashthi, which is the sixth day of the month of Kartika in the Vikram Samvat. This festival is dedicated to the Sun God, "Surya" and Chatthi Maiya, "Usha", regarded to be the sister of the Sun god. Sun is the conserver of energy and all life sustains with this energy, so this festival is in honour of Sun God thanking him for sustaining life in all forms on the earth, revitalizing  and rejuvenating varied forms of life. 

Just imagine a day without Sun :)

In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure many diseases, skin diseases, leprosy, and helps in longevity & prosperity. In Chatth festival, primarily Sun god is worshiped. This festival is observed with great austerity and rigidity, following the rigorous rituals. In many festivals, people have modified the rules and rituals but in these festivals, the rituals are observed in the same way as it was before, people are reluctant to change, fearing Sun God.


It is a festival of four days which starts with "Nahay Khay" (Holy Bathing); the day people cleanse themselves, bathing in holy river and abstain from consuming Tamsik (Non-veg) food and even onion-garlic is not taken on this day. It is a day to detoxify our body and prepare oneself for the holy festival. Normally, Rice, Daal, vegetable of Gourd (Kaddu), Kaddu preparation is a must and this day, prices of Kaddu soar very high owing to the demand. The food preparation of this day differs from place to place but the ingredients are more or less same. Consuming simple food is a preparation of the body to take up rigorous fast, it's my logical belief and hope people agree to my view.

The second day is Kharna or Lohanda (Holy preparation of jaggery Kheer), on this day, the “Vrati”, the observer of Chatth is on fast for the whole day and in evening, jaggery kheer is prepared in milk and water of holy river and after worshipping the Sun god, this holy kheer is consumed by the Vrati and is distributed among people.
Chatth is a regional festival; cooking Kheer is common among all Chatth observers. There is tradition of preparation of roti smeared with ghee, Dal stuffed rotis, parathas along with kheer. It differs from place to place. The “Vrati”, the observer of Chatth is on fast without water for 36 hours after taking the Kheer Prasad.

The third day is Sandhya or Pahla Arghya (Offerings to the Sun during Sunset): On this day, “Vrati”, the observer of Chatth along with the other family members are busy throughout the day in making arrangements of the offerings (Prasad) which is offered. The offerings include coconuts, Thekua, seasonal fruits, green ginger, radish, and green turmeric (haldi); the whole stuff is organized in bamboo soops (winnows). There are several folk songs of Chatthi maiya in local dialects and are sung on all the four days of this festival.




                                       Clicks by me celebrations@ home

                                       Clicks by me celebrations@ home

There is specialty of Chatth Thekua (cookies prepared by wheat and jaggery along with dry fruits). The wheat used for making Thekuas are washed properly and spread in sun to dry and the family members sit to guard the washed wheat that none touches, it is taken care that even birds don’t touch the grains, the purity to that extent is maintained. If by chance anyone touches other than the Vrati & the family members, it is discarded for use in this festival. It is a bit tough task but the devotees take care of the same. It is either grounded at home in stone grinders or in market where this festival is observed, the grinders are cleaned and washed for this purpose, so the rules are rigid of this festival. Sun god is revered as the creator and conserver of this Universe and people fear that if they fault, they would be punished. This Thekua Prasad is unique in taste and people relish their taste.


                                          Clicks by me celebrations@ home

 

The Arghya is either offered near the banks of rivers, water bodies and ponds and nowadays people offer the prayers at home  water tank at rooftops or in garden. The “Vrati” bathes in & stands in water for long hours devoting his prayers to Sun God or Suryadev.  The prayers are offered to the setting sun and the people of the family members, neighbors and onlookers help them willingly and receive the blessings of the worshipper. On river banks, it looks like a carnival. The river banks and roads to the banks are cleaned and washed by the local people and the administration. Each measure is taken to help the Chatth devotees. I hold the view that it is more of a social festival where every individual readily partakes and the faith is a lot for this festival. Cleanliness and purity is the main agenda of this festival, it’s my viewpoint, hope many agrees. My bad habit of taking things in a more logical way, logic stands between my thought processes.


At the night of Chhath a vibrant event of Kosi is celebrated by lighting the lamps of clay diyas under the covering of five sugarcane sticks. The five sugarcane sticks indicate the Panchatattva (earth, water, fire, air and space) that human body made of Panchatattva.

                                             Clicks by me celebrations@ home
                                      Clicks by me celebrations@ home

 

 

Usha or Dusra Arghya (Offerings to the Sun during Sunrise): The fourth or final day of Chatth when prayers are offered to the rising Sun God. Again people gather on the banks of rivers before sunrise and stand in water till the sun rises and prayers are offered to the rising sun and seek the blessings of Suryadev to continue to protect and conserve life and nature. The Arghaya that is offered is holy river Ganga water or milk.
After offerings prayers, the “Vrati” breaks their fast with the Prasad of Chatth and consumes vegetarian home cooked food. This festival’s main emphasis is on cleanliness and purity of the place, the people, the offerings and the food; it can be briefed as it believes in Cleanliness of the environment on the whole.

 

   Clicks by me celebrations@ home


History:  

1.Draupadi and the Pandavas, rulers of Indraprastha (modern Delhi), performed the Chhath ritual on the advice of noble sage Dhaumya. 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.

 

2. Lord Rama of India and Sita of Nepal had kept fast and offer puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksh during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. From that time, chhath puja became the significant and traditional festival in the Hindu religion and started celebrating every year at the same date in Sita's homeland Janakpur and adjoining Indian states of Bihar .

3. A long time ago, there was a king named, Priyabrat and his wife Malini. They had a married life but they did not had a child, which marred their happiness. They held  a big Yagya aided by Maharishi Kashyap to be blessed with a child. His wife became pregnant because of the effect of Yagya. But she gave birth to a dead child after nine months. King was very sad and contemplated suicide. Suddenly,a Goddess appeared before him & told him that She was Goddess Khashti. If someone would offer prayer with pure mind and soul, he would definitely blessed with a child. The king, Priyabrat followed and was blessed with a very beautiful and cute child. Since then, people started celebrating the chhath puja.

Mostly this festival is observed by women in large numbers though men too observe this festival, the participation of woman folk is more. This festival is unique in the sense that there is no involvement of “pundit” or “Brahman” in this festival.

 The traditions are different in families, in many families, it is carried over by generations to generations and it is not left in any year whereas in many families, it is optional to observe the festival. The people of Bihar, UP, and Nepal mostly observe this festival and the people who don’t observe still participate fully in helping the Chatth devotees, so it is more of a social obligation and each person try to help the devotees at the most in their reach.

This is the only festival where the significance is more on the setting and the rising sun, both and even science proves the healing properties of the sun rays beneficial for human as well as for all life sustaining on earth.

This festival is celebrated with great reverence and gaiety and the whole society comes as a whole to celebrate with purity and holy thoughts and in a way, Nature is worshipped with the new harvest of the season and the Sun, the generator of energy is thanked for helping in sustaining life on earth.

Happy Chatth to All of You!

May each one of us contribute on our part to maintain the cleanliness of the environment and the sanctity of this universe.

God Bless All Life On This Earth.

 

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