Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal.
The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the solar deity Surya and Shashthi Devi (Chhathi Maiya) in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. This festival is observed by Nepalese and Indian people along with their diaspora.
Types of Chhath Puja
- Chaitra Chhath – Distinctly known as “Chaiti Chhath”, this is observed in the Chaitra month of Vikram Samvat.
- Kartik Chhath – Popularly called “Chhath”, this is celebrated at very large scale in the Kartika month of Vikram Samvat.
Nahay Khay- The first day of Chhath Puja, devotees take a dip, preferably in the Kosi river, Karnali and Ganga, and carry home the holy water to prepare the offerings.
Lohanda- The second day, the devotees observe a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening a little after sunset. After worshipping the Sun and the Moon, they prepare offerings of kheer, bananas and rice for their family. After consuming the offering, they fast for 36 hours without water.
Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings)- After preparing the prasad, the devotees take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and Chhathi maiyya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs.
Usha Arghya- The fourth day, devotees go to the holy waters and offer morning offerings or ‘Usha arghya’ to the sun, following which they break their fast.
Devotees during this period observe purity and live frugally. They sleep on the floor on a single blanket.