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Chhath Festival Celebration: History, Significance and Facts

Event 30 Oct 2022 473 0

Chhath Puja

Chhath, the great festival celebrated by worshiping and adoring the god Surya, has started. This year, the festival started by offering Argha to the setting sun in the evening on Shashti (Sunday) and ended by offering Argha to the rising sun on Saptami (Monday) in the morning.

Chhath festival is becoming popular among all classes, communities and levels including rich, poor, Madhesi, Pahari, Hindu, Muslim, women, and men. Until a few years ago, this festival was celebrated only in some districts of Terai, but now it is also celebrated in various cities of the country, including the capital Kathmandu.

According to cultural expert Dr. Ramdayal Rakesh, there are various stories and legends about the beginning of this festival which is prepared with special purity with the beginning of Kartik. He says that Sukanya, the daughter of a king named Sarayati, celebrated Chhath for the first time in Satya Yuga. Referring to the context of Mahabharata, Draupadi wished for the success of Pandava's Guptavas and it is believed by many that the Chhath festival started from that time. Similarly, in Surya Purana, it is mentioned that Sati Anusuiya, Ardhangini of Atrimuni, performed the Chhath festival. According to Sambpurana, it is said that Sri Krishna's son Samb, who was suffering from arthritis due to the curse of his father Sri Krishna, got rid of the disease by worshiping the sun. Some people believe that the Chhath festival started at that time. According to cultural expert Dr. Rakesh, the Chhath festival was started in connection with the story of the poet Mayur Bhatt, who was suffering from leprosy, regaining a beautiful and healthy body by worshiping and worshiping the sun.

Satidanand Kurmi, who lives in Nayabaneshwar, Kathmandu, says that after being financially and materially unproductive, even parents are no longer given importance in our society.

Ram Manohar Sah, who is from a Mahottari family and has been living in the capital for the past five years, said that this festival has strengthened the formula of unity between Nepalis and Nepali people for the past few years.

Terai residents who are living in the capital for various jobs usually go to their villages to celebrate the Chhath festival, while some have been celebrating this festival in the capital for a few years. Kamalpokhri in the capital Kathmandu is specially decorated for the Chhath festival. Similarly, the Chhath festival has been organized in various places including Guhyeshwari and Pashupati, Bagmatikinar, Nagpokhari in Naxal, and Sanepa in Lalitpur.

According to Bratalu Sudha Mahato, the first day of this festival is called 'Nahan-Khan'. On this day, Bratalu takes a bath and meditates, especially by making rice, rahar dal and gourd vegetables. From the first day of Chhathi Puja i.e. from the day of Kattik Shukla Chauthi, special purification is done. From this day, Bratalu avoids garlic, onion, lentils, and even millet in food.

The first day of Chhath i.e. Panchami is called 'Kharna'. The second day of this festival i.e. Shashtika day is considered as the main part of this festival. This day is called 'Sanjhia Ghat'. On this day, dishes like rice and flour thekuwa, kasar and other dishes are cooked in oil and ghee from early morning. The prepared dishes, five types of sweets, sugarcane, ginger, coconut, radish, suthani, betel nut, cloves, sukmel and other offerings are kept in bamboo baskets, nanglo and sipuli and go to the nearby reservoir with pure water and cow's milk along with the members of the Bratalu family and they bathe the setting sun. After offering the argah, the bratalu return home.

Some Bratalu stay awake all night at the place of worship without returning home. There, according to someone's vow, clay idols of various gods and goddesses are made and worshiped, which is called 'Kosiya'.

The next day, on the day of Kattik Saptami, when Bratalu offered Argha to the rising sun, this Mahaparva Mahayatra is considered to be over. Even after the completion of this festival, Bratalu worships the house deity, well, Chapakal (Tuvel) along with Prasad and asks for Prasad from Chathimata, and takes food and water according to the previous Bratalu.

Bertalu does not consume fish, meat, garlic, millet, fapar, lentils, etc. Today the day of Chaturthi is called Arabine or Arba. Women fast on Chhath in the belief that their wishes will be fulfilled. This festival, based on the Mithila culture, which is celebrated especially in the Terai, started to be celebrated in the mountains including Kathmandu after 2046.

Since the year 2046, the government has been giving public holidays on this festival. After the year 2063, Thapathali, Guhyeshwari, Gaurighat and Ranipokhari in Kathmandu also started celebrating this festival with special importance. Chhath was celebrated on the banks of Wagmati and Bishnumati rivers since before.

Chhath celebrations were stopped for a few years due to lack of water during reconstruction after the earthquake in Ranipokhari. Even after the reconstruction of Ranipokhari was completed in 2077 Ashoj, Chhath has not been celebrated there.

On the second day of the fast, on Kartik Shukla Panchami, fasting is done without water. On this day in the evening, kheer is prepared at home and offered to the moon and eaten. It is called Kharna, said Ramesh Jha, who was celebrating Chhath in Kathmandu.

"On the day of Shashti, Bertalu offers thekuwa, fruits, sweets and bread to Surya and Chathi Mata, the wheels of the sun's chariot are marked on the bread", he said.

On the day of Shashti, dishes, fruits and coconuts are decorated in bamboo baskets and covered with cloth. In the evening, after lighting a lamp and singing a song with an earthen cup, the sun reaches the bank of the river or pond and is about to sink. After giving the arghya, they dive into the water three times and spend the night there entertaining themselves.

On the day of Saptami, people wait from 4 am to see the rising sun. The rising sun is worshiped with cow's milk, flowers, and water. In this way, the worship performed at the ghat is called Bhinsarghat.

It is called Bhinsarghat because the puja is performed at the ghat in the morning. Chhath Puja can be done after offering Aghrya and darshan of the sun at sunrise. Anil Singh, chairman of the Guhyeshwari-based Chhath Puja Committee, said that there is a method of worshiping the sun by immersing the devotees in waist-deep water with their clothes.

"Since the operation and protection of the creatures on earth are from water and the sun, the river is considered as the mother and the sun as the source of all power," he said.

According to Prada Ramachandra Gautam, a religious scholar, it is mentioned in the scriptures that by worshiping the sun during the Kartik Shukla aspect, one's desires will be fulfilled and the desired fruit will be obtained.

Since it is a symbol of purity and worship of the sun, Chhath has been celebrated starting from Terai and now reaching the hills and the Himalayas.

By worshiping and darshan of the sun, married men and women pray for the long life of their husbands and wives and unmarried children wish for a suitable bride and groom. There are also many people who celebrate this festival with the wish of having children.

Rajendra Singh, who has been leading the Chhath Puja in Kamalpokhari since 2068, said that Muslims, Buddhists and Jains also participate in this festival.

There is a religious belief that this festival started to be celebrated because Chathimata first pleased Suryadev. During the Mahabharata period, when the Pandavas along with Draupadi were in hiding, they worshiped Suryadev to make the Guptavas successful. It is believed that this festival was started to be celebrated in the belief that the Pandavas were successful in exile due to the influence of sun worship performed when the Pandavas were staying in the court of King Virat.

As mentioned in the Surya Purana, Anusuya, the wife of Atrimuni, first performed the Chhath fast, so she obtained unwavering good fortune and love for her husband. Arkathari says that the tradition of celebrating 'Chhath festival' started from that time.

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