Chhath Puja also known as Dala Chhath, Pratihar, Surya Shashthi and Chhath, is a four-day festival dedicated to Lord Surya and is mainly observed by women for the well-being of their sons and happiness of their family. Though it is celebrated across the country it is native to the North and Central India. During Chhath Puja, devotees take a holy bath, observe fast and pray to the Sun God and offer fruits and flowers. The four-day festival is celebrated six-days after Diwali. It is also believed that during the festival sunrise and sunset symbolises the cycle of birth and death. Each day of the festival has different rituals to follow. The festival begins on October 24 and Chhath Puja will be celebrated on October 26.
Day One (November 11) The first day of the festival is known as ‘Nahay Khay’ and falls on October 24 this year. The day symbolises purity and discipline. On this day devotees take a holy dip in water bodies and women fast throughout the day and have only one meal. The meal is prepared in handmade earthen or bronze utensils and is called ‘Kaddu Bhat’. The meal comprises of rice, chana dal and lauki (Green Gourd). The day is also called as Lauki Bhat as Green Gourd has a special importance on the day.
Day Two (November 12) The second day of the four-day festival is called as Lohanda and Kharna. During the day devotees observe nirjala vrat (fast without food and water) and break the fast after sunset. The fast is broken after kheer-roti is offered to the Sun God. Devotees distribute kheer-roti, banana, and rice to their family.
Day Three (November 13) The third day is Chhath, the main day of the festival. Devotees celebrate the day by offering Surya Namaskar, taking a dip in water bodies in the evening, singing melodious folklore and praying to Sun God and Goddess Chhathi Maiyya, wife of Sun God. Devotees observe nirjala vrat and offer argha (offerings of sweets, fruits, and flowers) to the Sun God. The day is also called ‘Sandhya Arghya’. Arghya means offerings. Hence, Sandhya Arghya means evening offerings. The fast continues throughout the night and is broken on the fourth and final day of the festival.
Day 04 (November 14) The last and the fourth day of the festival is celebrated by offering prayers and sweets in the morning also called as ‘Usha Arghya’. The fast is broken after offering the argha and Surya Namaskar to the rising Sun.