Popular as one of the most celebrated festivals in Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Nepal, Chhath Puja is gaining a global popularity as well. This age-old Hindu festival is celebrated after the festivities of Diwali. The festival is primarily dedicated to Lord Surya and Goddess Shashthi, who is believed to be his sister. Lord Surya is supposed to be the one and only source of every energy on earth.
On the sixth day of Kartika month, the lord of life, energy and power is worshipped and celebrated to promote well-being of everybody. The festival is celebrated over a span of four days where the devotees offer their prayers to Lord Surya and Chhathi Maiyya. There are various rituals performed during this festival and devotees offer their gratitude. Everyone who observes fast, is termed as Vrati.
When it comes to the historical significance of the festival, there are various versions of story that support the origin of Chhath Puja. In one of the mythological stories, Draupadi and Pandavas were believed to perform all the rituals of Chhath Puja. They belonged to Hastinapur and lost their fortune. They regularly prayed to Goddess Shashthi and Lord Surya to win back their lost kingdom. Even today, it is believed that Chhath Puja is known for blessing everybody with good health, wealth and prosperity.
In one of the ancient stories, Karna, son of Surya and Kunti had also prayed to Lord Surya and Goddess Shashthi and performed Chhath Puja. During the time of Mahabharata, Karna ruled the Anga Desh which is modern-day Bhagalpur in the state of Bihar. While performing the rituals of Chhath Puja, the worshippers chant the mantras from Rig Veda texts.
One of the legends from early Vedic Period supports the ritual of performing Chhath Puja as a way to attain Lord Surya’s blessings, energy and power. As per the legend, sages from Pre Vedic period used to stand in front of Sun to attain its energy through sun rays. The process lasted for four days with total abstinence from food or water.
Many people believe that offering an arghya to Lord Surya on Chhath Puja will bestow you with blessings, good health and prosperity. This year, the celebration of Chhath Puja will last from 18th November to 21st November.