Monday, October 26, 2009

Chhath was observed even by Draupadi

What exactly is Chhath puja?



Chhath puja, one of the most important festivals of Bihar, Jharkhand and the adjacent parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and the terai regions of Nepal, is an ancient festival dedicated to the Sun god. It is a festival of nature worship and some believe that it might even predate the Vedas. The Rigveda has hymns for the Sun god and a similar ritual is also mentioned in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata in which Draupadi is depicted as observing similar rites.







With the migration of people of Bihar and UP to other states, the festival has spread to most major cities of north India. The festival is celebrated twice every year, once in summer during the Hindu month of Chaitra and then in winters during Kartik. The Kartik Chhath is more popular. The word Chhath denotes the number six, and accordingly, the festival begins on the sixth day of Chaitra and Kartik.






What is unique about Chhath?






Unlike Holi and Diwali, and other festivals of northern India, Chhath is more of a ritual practice and it calls for arduous observance of the rites. The main worshipper, called ‘parvaitin’ (usually women), is required to follow a period of abstinence and segregation for four days. A devotee cannot become a ‘parvaitin’ unless the mantle is passed on to her by an elderly devotee who is observing Chhath for the family. Once started, the worshipper has to continue without any break till the time she is physically not capable of undergoing the strenuous observance.






The festival is only skipped in a year in which a death occurs in the family. When the worshipper is physically incapable, the mantle is passed on to another able candidate — typically the wife of the eldest son or some relative in case there is no one in the family capable of observing it. The festival of reverence to the Sun god is perhaps the only festival in the world where devotees offer salutations to the setting as well as the rising sun.






What rituals are observed during Chhath?






The four-day festival is known for its arduous rituals. The house and its surroundings are cleaned on Chhath eve. On the first day, which is called ‘Naha-Kha’ (literally meaning bathe and eat), the worshipper is allowed to have two meals in the day spiced with in rock salt and pure ghee, without any use of garlic and onions. A typical meal comprises split-chickpeas pulses, bottle gourd vegetables and basmati rice. The second day is called ‘Kharna’ and on this day the worshipper has to fast without even taking water from daybreak to sundown. The fast ends after sunset, when the worshipper offers prayers and ‘prasad’ to the Sun god and eats the meal, which is typically kheer and chapatti.






Friends are invited to the homes to share the prasad of the ritual. From this meal onwards, for almost the next 36 hours, the worshipper goes on a fast without water. Most of the third day is spent in making prasad, which is typically ‘Thakua’ (a Bihari fried cookie-like food) and ‘Kasara’ (laddu of rice powder). The setting Sun is worshipped and the devotee returns home after sunset.
 
Courtsey : TheTimesofIndia.com

2 comments:

Ajay said...

Thanks Mukhiya Jee for such a nice information.

Indianews said...

Why don't you write regularly

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