Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated mainly in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. It is the only Hindu festival which doesn’t involve idol worship; rather it venerates the natural elements and thanks them for sustaining life. Devotees pray to Sun God and his sister Chhathi Maiya, thanking them and also asking for wishes.
The festival involves one of the most rigorous rituals expanding over four days; including a 34 hours fasting without even water. The devotees also completely abstain from eating onion, garlic etc from even the first day of Chhath. They have to stand long duration in water to perform arghya to setting and rising sun. Devotees in large numbers, congregate at the river banks to perform arghya. Those who don’t have access to rivers, perform the rituals in some naturally occurring or manmade pond.
Long Essay on Chhath Puja in English
We have provided below long essay on Chhath Puja in English for your information and knowledge. This long essay has been written in simple yet effective English language so that you can easily memorize it and present when needed.
After going through the essays you will know everything about Chhath Puja; mythological history of Chhath Puja; ancient tradition of worshipping the sun; references to the sun worship; evidence of Chhath Puja from Ramayana; when and why is Chhath puja celebrated; why is the festival called Chhath Puja; what is Surya Argha and why is it performed. This Chhath Puja essay will be extremely useful in gaining knowledge about the festival of Chhath Puja.
Chhath Puja essay - Long Essay (2700 Words)
Chhath or Shashthi Puja is a Hindu festival celebrated on the Shashthi of Kartik Shukla Paksha. This unique folk-festival of worshipping the Sun God is mainly celebrated in eastern India. This festival is often celebrated by Hindus. Gradually this festival has become prevalent around the world among Indian Diaspora. Chhath Puja is dedicated to Surya and his sister Chhathi Maiya to request them to thank and some good wishes for restoring peace and prosperity to life on earth. Chhath does not involve any idolatry.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and observed over a period of four days. These include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for long periods and offering Prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya (pouring water). The main worshipers are usually women.
Chhath Puja Date in 2019?
This year Chhath Puja is falling from 31st October to 3rd November. The details are given below:
Day Date Ritual
Thursday 31st October 2019 Nahay-Khay
Friday 1st November 2019 Kharna and Lohanda
Saturday 2nd November 2019 Sandhya Argh
Sunday 3rd November 2019 Usha Argh and distribution of offerings
Mythological History of Chhath Puja
It is believed that Goddess Aditi performed Chhath Puja. According to a legend, when the deity (Goddess) was defeated by the Asuras (Demon) in the first Devasur Sangram (God-Demon War), Dev Mata Aditi worshiped the Chhathi Maiya in the Surya temple of Devarnya, to attain a glorious son. Pleased to her, the Chhathi Maiya gave him the boon of being a virtuously rich son. After this, Aditi's had given birth of Aditya Bhagwan (The Sun God), who gave victory to the Gods, over the Asuras. It is said that from that time the name of this place became Dev and the practice of Chhath Puja started in the name of Dev Sena Shashthi Devi here.
- Imagery of Sun in Human Form
In the last period of the later Vedic period, the human form of the sun began to be imagined. It later took the form of idol worship of the sun. As the mythological period came, the practice of sun worship became more and more. Temples of Suryadev were also built in many places.
- The Sun as a Deity
The worship of the sun due to creation and rearing power started in different form at different places with the development of civilization, but mention of the sun as a deity is first mentioned in the Rig-Veda. After this, along with all other Vedas, it has been discussed prominently in Vedic texts like Upanishads etc.
- The Ancient Tradition of Suryopasana
Suryopasana has been happening in India since Vedic period. The Sun and its worship are discussed in detail in Vishnu Puran, Bhagavat Puran, and Brahma Vaivarta Puran etc. By the middle ages, Chhath became revered as the systematic festival of Suryopasana, which is still going on.
- References to Sun Worship
Chhath festival is basically a festival of worship of the sun, which has a special place in Hinduism. Among the Gods of Hinduism, Surya (The Sun) is such a deity that can be seen in tangible form.
The main sources of Sun's powers are his wife Usha and Pratyusha. In Chhath, there is a combined worship of both the powers along with the Sun. In the morning, worship of the first ray (Usha) of the Sun and the last ray (Pratyusha) of the Sun in the evening are offered to both of them.
- Sun as a Healing God
In the mythological period, Surya was also considered as the God of healing. The rays of the sun were found to have the ability to destroy many diseases. The sages found its special effect on a particular day in the course of their research. Probably this is the birth of Chhath festival. Shamb, grandson of Lord Krishna, had developed leprosy. Special Suryopasana was done to get rid of this disease, for which Brahmins were called from Shakya Island.
- Evidence from the Ramayana
According to a belief, Lord Rama and Mother Sita fasted and worshiped Suryadev on Kartik Shukla Shashthi on the day of the establishment of Ram Rajya after the victory over Ravana.
- Evidence from the Mahabharata
According to another belief, Chhath festival started in the Mahabharata period. First Suryaputra Karna started worshiping Suryadev. Karna was the supreme devotee of Lord Surya. He used to offer arghya to Suryadev daily by standing on his waist for hours. By the grace of Suryadev, he became a great warrior. Even today, this method of arghya donation is prevalent in Chhath.
Some stories also mention the worship of the Sun by Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She wished for the best health of her family members and performed regular Surya Puja for a long life.
There are many stories related to Chhath Puja. According to one of them, when the Pandavas lost all their royalty in gambling, then on being told by Sri Krishna, Draupadi kept Chhath fast. Then their wishes were fulfilled and the Pandavas got their kingdom back.
- Evidence from the Purans
According to a legend, King Priyavad had no children, and then Maharishi Kashyapa made a son's sacrifice and offered his wife Malini a pudding made for Yagyahuti (offering to fire). Due to this effect, a son was born, but was born dead. Priyavad went to the crematorium with his son corpse. At the same time, Brahma's virtual daughter Devasena appeared and said that she was called Shashthi because of the sixth part of the original trend of creation. She had suggested that he has to worship her and inspire people to worship as well. The king, with a son's will, kept fast the Goddess Shashthi and his son regained his life again. This puja was performed on Kartik Shukla Shashthi.
When and Why Chhath Puja is Celebrated?
Chhath Puja is celebrated twice in a year, one in Chait month and the second in Kartik month. It is celebrated on Shukla Paksha Chaturthi to Saptami. Shashthi Mata is also known as Katyayani Mata other form of Durga. Puja of Shashthi Mata is done for the safety and health benefits of all the members of the family members. The worship of Sun God and Mother Ganga is a very important part of the society in our country.
Chhath Puja i.e. Surya Shashthi fasting Puja is an important puja for the well-being of the family's health and for the protection from the natural calamities and disasters. In this Puja, it is mandatory to have a place like Ganga or any River or Pond that is why all the rivers and ponds are cleaned and decorated for Chhath Puja.
Why this Festival is Called Chhath Puja?
Chhath is a famous festival for sun worship in India. Originally it is called Chhath because of fasting on Surya Shashthi. This festival is celebrated for family’s happiness and prosperity and getting desired results.
According to the folk tradition, the relationship of Suryadev and Chhathi Maiya is that of brother and sister. From the scientific point of view, there is a special astronomical change on the sixth day (Chhath). At this time, the ultra violet rays of the sun collect more than normal on the surface of the Earth, due to this it’s possible the ability to protect humans as much as possible from ill effects. It is possible to protect organisms from harmful effects of sunlight (ultraviolet rays) from observance of the festival. Earth's creatures get a lot of benefit from this.
Along with sunlight, its ultraviolet rays also hit the Moon and Earth. Upon entering the atmosphere, it gets an ion system. Using ultraviolet rays, the atmosphere synthesizes its oxygen element and converts it into its allotropic ozone. By this action, most of the sun's ultraviolet rays are absorbed into the Earth's atmosphere. Only a negligible part of it reaches the surface of the Earth. Under normal conditions, the amount of ultraviolet rays reaching the surface of the Earth is within the range of tolerance of humans or organisms. Therefore, it does not have any special harmful effects on humans in the normal state; rather harmful germs die by that sunlight, which benefits man or life.
Astronomical positions like the Chhath (at both ends of the equator of the moon and earth's travel plane), the Sun's ultraviolet rays reflected off by lunar surface and reaching Earth again in greater amounts than usual it goes. Recurring from the atmosphere levels, at sunset and sunrise it becomes even denser. According to astrological calculations, this event comes after six days of Kartik and Chaitra month. Being based on astrological calculations, it is named nothing else but Chhath festival.
How is Chhath Festival Celebrated?
This festival is of four days. It starts from the third day of Diwali and next day after Bhai-Dooj. In other words, it starts on Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends on Kartik Shukla Saptami. During this period, fasters keep a fast of 36 hours. During this time they do not even take water. Piety takes special care in worship; Garlic and onion are prohibited. Devotional songs are sung in the houses, where this puja is performed.
- Nahai Khay or the First Day
The first day of Chhath festival, known as 'Nahay-Khay', begins with Kartik Shukla Chaturthi, the fourth day of Chaitra or Kartik month. Firstly the house is cleaned and consecrated. After that, the people go and bathe in the Ganges River, a tributary of the Ganges or the pond near them. On this day, people take bath after washing their hair thoroughly with clean water, cutting nails and so on.
While returning, they bring with them the holy water which they use for cooking. They keep their surroundings clean and tidy. On this day, Vratis (the worshipper) eat only once in the evening. On this day, rice and vegetable of pumpkin in rock salt is cooked in bronze or clay utensils. Mango wood and clay stove are used for cooking.
- Kharna and Lohanda or the Second Day
The second day of Chhath festival, known as Kharna or Lohanda, is celebrated on the fifth day of Chaitra or Kartik month. On this day, fasts are observed throughout the day and the worshippers do not take even a drop of water. In the evening rice and Kheer is made using jaggery and sugarcane juice. Salt and sugar are not used in cooking.
By offering these two things to Suryadev, the worshippers go in 'solitude' in the house, that is, they remain alone and receive them. All the family members go out of the house at that time so that there is no noise. It is against the rules of the festival to hear any voice for a fast while eating in solitude.
The same 'Kheer-roti' prasad is distributed to all the family members, friends and relatives. This entire process is called 'Kharna'. After this, fasting for the next 36 hours start. The worshippers make special offerings thekua (sweet bread) for Chhath Puja.
- Sandhya Argh (Evening Offering) or the Third Day
The third day of Chhath festival, known as Sandhya Arghya, is celebrated on Chaitra or Kartik Shukla Shashthi. On the whole day everyone prepares for worship. For Chhath Puja, a basket made of bamboo called Daura is put to keep all the things of the worship. Coconut, Sugarcane, and five kinds of fruits along with the sweet bread are essential things for it. The men of the house carry it to the place of worship near a water body. It should not become impure; so it is carried on the top of the head. On the way to Chhath Ghat, women often sing the folk songs of Chhath.
Going to the banks of the river or pond, the women sit on a platform made by a member of the house. After removing the soil from the river, the chaura (platform) is built on that Chhath Mata is placed, by placing all the items of worship, the coconut, and lighting the lamp. Shortly before sunset, after taking all the items of worship of Sun God, he goes into water and stands in water and revolves around five times by offering Arghya to the drowning Sun God.
- Usha Arghya (Morning Offering) or the Fourth Day
Karthik Shukla Saptami on the fourth day, Arghya is offered to the rising sun in the morning. Even before sunrise, fasting people arrive at the ghat to worship the rising sun god and their family members are also present there. The dishes offered in the evening Argya are replaced by new dishes but the other things remain the same. All the rules and regulations are like evening arghya.
Only the fasting people stand in the water facing the east and perform sun worship. Worshiping of the ghat is done after worship. Vratis come home by distributing prasad among the people present there and also distribute prasad to their family etc. at home. After the Puja, the Vratis complete the fast which is called Parana by drinking raw cow milk and eating some prasad. After that they can eat regular food and common salt.
Main Offering Materials on Chhath Puja
The materials include 'Thekua' made from wheat flour made by the Vratis. This is called thekua because it is made up of stamping the pulp of flour on a special type of designed wood called Agarowtta. In addition to the above dish, all the new tubers, fruits, spices, sugarcane, hay, turmeric, coconut, lemon (big), ripe bananas etc. are offered in Kartik month. All these things are offered whole (uncut).
Significance of Chhath Songs
Folk songs are sung with many melodious and devotional songs on various occasions of folk festival Chhath, while making prasad, during kharna, giving arghya and returning home from ghat. Many singers like Sharada Sinha, Malini Awasthi, and other folk singers have sung a variety of songs for Chhath Puja.
Limitations of this Festival
At the center of Chhath festival is Chhath Vrat which is like a difficult penance. This Chhath Vrat is mostly performed by women; some men also keep this fast. The fasting women are called Parvatin. In this fast of four days, along with the food, pleasant beds are also discarded. In the room made for the festival, Vratis spend the night with the help of a blanket or a sheet on the floor.
People who observe this festival wear new clothes in which no stitching is done. It is mandatory to wear such clothes on the fast. Women wear saris and men wear dhoti to do Chhath. After starting the Chhath festival, years have to be done till a married woman of the next generation is ready for it. This festival is not celebrated when someone dies in the house.
It is believed that women who fast on Chhath festival will be blessed by a son. In general, women keep this fast for the want of a son and for the well being of their son and family. Men also keep a fast to fulfill their desired task with success.
Social and Cultural Importance of Chhath Puja
The most important aspect of Chhath Puja is its simplicity, purity and favour of the people. Chhath Puja is seen as a hallmark of people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in many parts of the country. This festival, full of devotion and spirituality, spreads the sweetness of folk life, consisting of bamboo-made supe (a kind of sorting apparatus), baskets, clay pots, sugarcane juice, prasad made from jaggery, rice and wheat and sweet folk songs.
Celebration of Chhath Festival in Modern Time
In spite of modernization, the Chhath Puja is celebrated with great joy and zeal especially where is the existence of the Bihari People and their relatives. Its popularity has reached in every nook and corner of our country as well as in abroad.
People start its preparation before a month or so. They invite their friends and near relatives and celebrate it with great enthusiasm and devotion. The noble families also celebrate this festival and it is common in every class of people following Hinduism.
Chhath Puja is a symbol of faith and devotion and people enjoy this festival dedicating their precious time still nowadays. The excitement of children is seen at a large and they run, play, enjoy and entertain this festival a lot. Many schools and offices are closed on this day.
Markets are full of stuffs and people go for shopping. The environment of festivity from Diwali ends here. Deployment of police force in sensitive areas is also made by the state governments. Our President and Prime Minister also deliver their west wishes on this day every year.
Unlike the scriptures, this is a ritual practiced by the common people in the colours of their customs. There is no need of special money for this festival, neither any priest is required. If needed, it is the support of the neighborhood which is presented with pleasure and gratitude for its service.
The public organizes its own mass campaign for this festival. The society does not look for the help of the government for the cleanliness of the cities, the management of the passing paths of the fastis, the proper arrangement for the arghya donation on the banks of the pond or river. In this festival, from the festival of Kharna to the Ardhadaan, there is a compulsory presence of the society.
It is a monumental and grand performance of the collective work done by the common and poor people, forgetting the difficulties of their daily life, with service and devotion.