Performing of prayer to Sun around the holy rivers, ponds and other small water bodies
|Liturgical Color||Colors related to Hinduism|
Saffron (or Bhagwa)
|Type||Cultural, Historical, Religious|
|Significance||To thank Sun for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and fulfilling particular wishes|
|2018 date||11 November to 14 November|
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Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian state of Bihar. The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun and his sister Chhathi Maiya in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. Chhath does not involve any idol worship. This festival is observed by Nepalese and Indian people, along with their diaspora. While it is a Hindu festival, some Muslims also celebrate Chhath.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.
Environmentalists claim that Chhath is the most eco-friendly Hindu festival. Although the festival is observed most elaborately in Madhesh (southern) region of Nepal and Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, it is also more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence. It is celebrated in all Northern regions and major Northern urban centers in India. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan Mumbai, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, other parts of the Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Macau, Japan, and Indonesia.
The main worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women. However, a large number of men also observe this festival as Chhath is not a gender-specific festival. The parvaitin pray for the well-being of their family, and for the prosperity of their offsprings. Once a family member starts performing Chhath Puja, it is their compulsory duty to perform it every year and to pass it on to the following generations. The festival is skipped only if there happens to be a death in the family that year. If the person stops performing the ritual on any particular year, it stops permanently and one cannot resume it again.
The prasad offerings include sweets, Kheer, Thekua, rice laddu(made of rice grit) and fruits (mainly sugarcane, sweet lime and banana) offered in small bamboo soop winnows. The food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.
Some devotees go to river banks to worship the sun by prostrating themselves the entire distance.
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