Chhath Puja: Festival of the Sun God
Chhath Puja is an Indian thanksgiving festival dedicated to the Sun
God. During the celebrations of Chhath Puja, people gather on the banks
of the River Ganges to bathe in its sacred water, pray and make ritual
offerings to the Sun God. Chhath Puja is a highly elaborate festival
noted for its impressive display of colorful costumes, music, singing
and extravagant rituals.
When Is the Festival of Chhath Puja?
Chhath Puja takes place, sometime during the months of October
and November, immediately following the six-day festival of lights known
as Diwali. Chhath Puja lasts for almost 3 days. There is also a "Chaiti
Chhath" celebrated just after Holi.
Where Is Chhath Puja Celebrated?
Chhath Puja is celebrated mainly in Bihar, Utter Pradesh,
Utteranchal and Jharkhand, now a days, you can see a celebration almost
everwhere in India. The festival takes place, on the banks of the
River Ganges, in people's homes and at the Sun Temple of Baragaon, two
kilometers outside Nalanda, in Bihar.
How Is Chath Puja Celebrated?
On the day before the festival of Chhath Puja, it is customary
for participants to gather on the riverbanks and cleanse themselves,
briefly, in the water of the River Ganges.
The fast is followed by worship in the home. Festive fare
consisting of freshly harvested rice, puris (a local bread type
delicacy), and fruit such as bananas, coconuts and grapefruit are
then served to the family.
Following prayers and the purifying bathing ritual, the fast is
ended with the offering, or prasad, to the Sun God.
Chath Puja: Useful Terms:
Surya: The sun (the Sun God is worshipped during the festival of
Chhath: In the context of Chhath Puja, Chhath refers to the
number six and the importance of this date on the Indian festival
Puja: Various interpretations exist of the word "puja,"
including worship with offerings, especially of flowers, and ritual
anointment with sandalwood paste. Puja is the combination of the
Sanskrit words for sin and birth.
Prasad: Ritual offerings.
Puris: This deep-fried bread, made from wheat flour, is
traditionally offered at the festival of Chhath Puja.
Thekuwa: This is a wheat-based cake served during the festival
of Chhath Puja.
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