Chhat Puja, or Dala Chhath Pooja, is an important ritual observed after Diwali in Bihar and other parts of northern and eastern
. The Chhat Puja 2010 dates are – the main Chhath puja is November 12 and November 13. Sandhya Argh (Chhat Dala Evening puja) is on November 12. Suryodaya Argh (Chhath Dala Morning puja) is on November 13. Nahai Khai is on November 10 and Kharna is on November 11. India
Chhat Puja is observed for four days in the month of Kartik (October – November). The main rituals take place on the sixth and seventh day during the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon. The important rituals include strict fasting and offerings to Surya Bhagvan (Sun God) on river bank or seashore.
Chhath fasting is mainly observed in Bihar, eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh and in some parts of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal.
Chhat Puja is dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun) and Lord Kartikeya or Skanda.
People undertake Chhat fasting for the well being of the family. It is believed that people get their wishes fulfilled, if they observe Chhat Vrat.
Chatth fast is mainly observed by women but in many regions men and children also join in the ritual and observe fast.
The first day of Chhat is known as Nahai Khai. Devotees take bath in River Ganges – a symbolic act of purification. Houses are thoroughly cleaned and people prepare for the intense austerity. Vegetarian food is preferred during the period of vrat.
During this period food is usually prepared with dry wood on a new oven made of brick and soil. Garlic and onions are avoided. The freshly prepared food is considered as ‘prasad’ or offerings to Sun God.
The second day is known as Kharna. Fast or Upvaas begins on the second day and this is referred as Kharna. The fast is broken after performing a puja at home in the evening. Kheer, sweets and fruits are offered to deities and then the whole family shares the prasad. Another round of fasting begins after the prasad is shared. This fast is usually broken on the fourth day morning.
On the third day in the evening (most important day), devotees offer ‘argh’ to setting sun (Lord Surya) along with ‘soop’ at a pond or river bank. ‘Argh’ and ‘soop’ are offerings and consists of flowers, fruits, sprouted grains, dry coconut, sugarcane, white radish, sweets and khajurees. The offering is made to Sun by standing in knee-deep water and is known as Chhat Sandhya Argh.
In the evening pujas are performed at home and a special puja is done for Agni – fire god. This puja is performed in a special area cordoned off by four sugarcane sticks.
On the fourth day morning, devotees repeat the rituals performed on the third day evening for rising sun and this is known as Chhat Sooryodaya Argh. What is left after offering to the Sun God is shared as prasad and the Chhat Puja comes to an end.
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