FESTIVALS : The God of Life and the stories behind Chath Pooja

Chhath, or the sixth day after the amavasya of Lunar month of Kartik, is celebrated to worship the bestower of life on Earth, the SUN God and as such is also known as Suryashashti. Mainly originated in the regions of Mithila in Nepal and spreading to the

Om Hraam, Hreem, Hroum, Swaha, Suryaya Namah. (Beej Mantra)

Chhath, or the sixth day after the amavasya of Lunar month of Kartik, is celebrated to worship the bestower of life on Earth, the SUN God and as such is also known as Suryashashti. Mainly originated in the regions of Mithila in Nepal and spreading to the bordering states of India (Eastern UP & Bihar), a 4 day ritual is observed by the worshippers to ensure happiness and prosperity in the family.

Nahai Khai, as the first day of ritual stands for Bathing and Eating where vratins(people who observe the fast) bathe in pure water of a nearby river or pond. And stay away from the comforts of life, to maintain purity such as sleeping on floor and fasting on items only made of ghee.

Continued to day 2, Kharna, a strict fast without fruits and water is carried out till evening when kheer(made of rice and milk and gud) and chapati (roti) is distributed and eaten once only with friends and family.

Day 3, Sandhya Arghya or offering to the setting sun is performed on the banks of a holy river and a joyous celebration is held after with folk songs and food specials such as thekua, churma, fruits, sweets, sugarcane, coconuts with friends and family gathered around.

To conclude with a similar offering is observed the next day, Day 4, also the last day, Usha Argh(Morning offering) or Dusra Aargh (Second offering) is called for before the rising sun and offered with friends and family again gathered on the banks of a river, to the full risen Sun. As the ritual is over, devotess break the fast with a bite ginger and sugar. Thereafter, Aukri(Pea) is distributed amongst family and friends as prasad.

Folklore says Usha and Pratyusha(Sandhya) were the wives of Sun God. Another lore describes Chathi Maiya as the sister of Surya or Sun God.

A mention of the ritual is also found in the texts of Mahabharata where Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas of Hastinapur (now New Delhi), was advised by Sage Dhaumya to observe the fast when she sought his refuge to the problems in her family. And as such the pandavas regained their lost kingdom, with the blessings of Lord Surya.

But even before this, the ritual was performed by the sages to attain energy from the sun rays and awaken their consciousness through the period of abstinence or chath. The origins of the ritual also hint at the probablity of another story which describes Lord Rama and his wife Sita had fasted till the sixth day after coming back to Ayodhya on Diwali from their exile as a gratitude to their family God or Devta, Surya.

A mantra chanted whilst performing Surya Namaskar

Japa Kusuma-Sankarsham Kashyapeyam Maha-Dyutimtamo-Rim / Sarva-Papa-Ghnam Pranatoshmi Divakaram.