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Chhat Puja, one of the most ancient and cherished festivals in the Hindu calendar, is a time of profound devotion and fervour. It is primarily celebrated in the northern regions of India and parts of Southern Nepal. The festival centres around the worship of the Sun God, Surya Devata, and Chhatti Maiya, and it holds a special place in the hearts of millions. As we approach Chhat Puja 2023, let's embark on a journey to explore the intricate rituals, delve into the historical significance, and discover how this age-old tradition remains deeply relevant in our modern world.
Chhat Puja, also known as Chhat Parv, is a festival that pays homage to nature and its elements. The word 'Chhat' denotes 'six' in Hindi and Nepali, signifying the celebration on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartika, following the Kali Puja. This four-day festival is a dedicated expression of devotion to Lord Surya, Chhatti Maiya, along with Lord Surya's wives Usha, and Pratuyusha, emphasizing fertility, well-being, and prosperity.
The Chhat Puja festivities commence with Nahaay Khaay, where worshippers, predominantly women, purify themselves with a ritual bath, wear fresh attire, and offer prayers to Lord Surya. Cleanliness is of paramount importance, as paths leading to water bodies (Ghat) are meticulously cleared. A simple Satvik meal including Kaduaa Bhaat, marks the last meal before the fast, symbolizing the purification of both the body and the mind.
On Kharna/Lohanda, devotees observe Nirjala fasting, abstaining from both food and water until sunset. The day concludes with the consumption of gur ke kheer and roti, symbolizing divine sweetness and sustenance during the fast.
Sandhya Aragh involves the preparation of prasad, a delectable mix of fruits, rice laddus, and Thekua offered in bamboo baskets. Devotees, joined by family and friends, present this prasad and gangajal to the setting sun, creating a sense of community and shared spirituality.
Kosi Bharai Ritual: Fulfillment and Prosperity
The Kosi Bharai ritual symbolizes the fulfilment of desires. This intricate ritual involves offerings under a canopy, a clay elephant, an earthen pot, oil lamps, and seasonal fruits, creating a sacred ambience. It's a gesture of thanksgiving and a testament to the faith in the divine fulfilment of prayers.
On Usha Aragh, the final day of Chhat Puja, worshippers wake up before sunrise, offering Arghya to the rising sun and Chhatti Maiya. The fast concludes with the Parana ritual, symbolizing the end of the Chhat Puja celebrations and the breaking of the fast, bringing spiritual fulfilment and blessings.
In the ancient texts of the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, the worship of Chhati Maiya during the Chhat festival is mentioned. Legends echo in the sacred halls of the Sitacharan temple in Munger, nestled amidst the Ganges. Here, it is believed, that Mata Sita performed the Chhat rituals, blessed thereafter with two sons, Luv and Kush.
Another tale tells of King Priyavrat's despair at childlessness, seeking solace in a Yajna guided by Maharishi Kashyap. In their grief, a celestial voice belonging to Mata Shashthi proclaimed hope. Her blessings not only revived a lifeless child but also birthed a tradition - the revered Chhat Puja, celebrated worldwide with unwavering devotion.
In 2023, Chhat Puja falls on Sunday, November 19, according to the Chhat Puja dates and calendar. Devotees from all around the world will gather with deep reverence, seeking blessings for a prosperous life, family well-being, and fertility.
Sunrise on Chhat Puja Day - 06:16 AM
Sunset on Chhat Puja Day - 05:59 PM
Shashthi Tithi Begins - 09:18 AM on Nov 18, 2023
Shashthi Tithi Ends - 07:23 AM on Nov 19, 2023
In our modern world, where we often find ourselves disconnected from our roots and traditions, Chhat Puja serves as a reminder that embracing our cultural heritage and expressing gratitude for the natural world is essential for our well-being and spiritual fulfilment.
As we approach Chhat Puja 2023, let's celebrate this ancient tradition with unity, reverence, and unwavering devotion, passing down the legacy to generations to come. Chhat Puja not only signifies spirituality but also showcases the unity of communities, shared joy, and the eternal bond between humanity and nature.
Chhat Puja is more than just a festival; it's a timeless tradition that continues to inspire and unite people across generations. It reminds us of the importance of reverence for nature, devotion to the divine, and the significance of community and family bonds.
As we approach Chhat Puja 2023, let the lamps of this ancient tradition illuminate our lives, fostering harmony, prosperity, and spiritual fulfilment. May we all find inspiration in this beautiful festival and carry its values forward in our modern world.
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