Chhath puja is one of the most important festivals of UP and Bihar which lies in the North-East part of India. It is an auspicious occasion and is celebrated every year. Prayers are presented to the sun deity Surya during Chhath Puja in order to thank him for all the blessings in life and to request that special wishes come true. The auspicious occasion is dedicated to Chhathi Maiya, the sister of Lord Surya and the sixth form of Devi Prakriti.
It is a festival of unity and harmony, where people of all castes and communities come together to celebrate. The rituals surrounding Chhath Puja are supposedly harsher when compared to other Hindu festivals. They involve strict fasting (without water), taking a dip in rivers/water bodies, standing in water and offering prayers, facing the sun for a prolonged period, and offering ‘Prasad’ to the Sun during sunrise and sunset. Any food prepared during the festival will have no salt, onion, or garlic.
The celebrations last for 4 days thanking the Sun God, the source of all powers. Devotees of the Sun God observe a fast called Vrati. In 2023, the Kartik Chhath Puja will be celebrated during the month of November, from 17th to 20th. Chhath Puja dates are based on the Hindu calendar.
Celebration Over 4 Days:
1st Day: Nahay Khay 17th November 2023 (Friday) – This involves taking a dip in a holy water body and fasting all day. Ladies observing the fast can have 1 meal the whole day. The meal has to be home cooked.
2nd Day: Lohanda and Kharna 18th November 2023 (Saturday) – A fast has to be maintained the whole day. It is broken after sunset and with Prasad (popular: Kheer and Chapatti). After this another fast has to be observed for the next 36 hours without water.
3rd Day: Sandhya Arghya 19th November 2023 (Sunday) – Prasad is prepared at home and taken to the river in the evening and offered to the setting sun. Women wear turmeric yellow coloured sarees while performing this ritual.
4th Day: Usha Arghya 20th November 2023 (Monday) – On the last day of the festival, devotees make offerings to the rising sun at the riverbank. On this day, the devotees break their 36-hour fast, resulting in the end of the festival. Relatives share Prasad together.
The muhurat for Chhath Puja 2023 is based on the shashti tithi. It will start at 9:18 am on 18th November 2023, Saturday. It will end at 7:23 am on 19th November 2023, Sunday. On the day of the Chhath Puja, 19th November, the sunrise will be at 6:46 am. The sunset on the same day will be at 5:26 pm.
Chhath Puja occurs twice a year – once during summer and once during winter. Karthik Chhath is performed on the 6th day of the Karthika month known as Kartika Shukla Shashti. This day falls during October or November every year as per the Hindu Calendar. In the summer, it is celebrated a few days after Holi, and is known as Chaiti Chhath.
There are many beliefs for celebrating this auspicious occasion. The very first one is; There was a King Priyavrat who had no children and once a kid was born, but he was born dead. As a result, the king took the child in his arms to the crematorium, but his grief was also killing him at the same time. Suddenly a devkanya appears and she asks the king to pray the goddess Shashti because she can help him. She was Devsena, daughter of God and she herself was the goddess Shashti. The king followed Devsena and finally, he had a son and, in this way, keeping this fast and puja got famous.