Preparations for one of North India’s biggest festivals Chhath Puja have begun. The ancient vedic festival celebrated widely across Nepal, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, dedicated to the the Sun god – Surya and Chhathi Maiya, the mother goddess.

Devotees thank Surya for bestowing bounties of life on earth and pray to the deity and his vedic consorts Usha and Pratyusha (Goddesses of Dawn and Dusk). The festival is celebrated grandly by Bihari and Nepalese diaspora to offer prayers to Chhati Maiya – the mother goddess.

The Sun is offered arghya (a special type of offering) in the evening on the first day and the morning of the second day.  The rituals are observed over four days as some devotees aslo perform a prostration march heading for river banks.

Chhath Puja lasts for four days starting with Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends with Kartik Shukla Saptami.

Day 1: Nahay Khay

The first day of Chhath Puja begins on November 8 this year when devotees take a holy dip. After bathing, the house is cleaned and food is offered to deities for their blessing and then eaten to protect the mind from the vengeful tendencies.

Day 2: Rasiaav-Roti/Kharna/Lohanda

Rasiaav-Roti is the second day of Chhath Puja when devotees are not allowed to drink even a single drop of water. Devotees fast all day and can eat gur ki kheer (Kheer made up of jaggery) called Rasiaav, fruits, and chapati.

Day 4: Sandhya Arghya

On the third day of Chhath puja, an arghya is offered to the Sun God during the Kartik Shukla Shashthi. In the evening bamboo baskets decorated with fruits, thekua, and rice laddus are offered in an arghya to the sun.

At the time of Arghya, water, and milk are also offered to Sun God and the Chhathi Maiya is worshipped from a soop filled with prasad. After the worship of Sun God, Shashthi Devi songs are sung at night and the Vrat Katha is heard by folks.

Day 5: Usha Arghya

This is the last day of Chhath puja in the morning when an arghya is offered to the Sun God. On this day, before sunrise, the devotees to go to the riverbank to offer an arghya to the rising sun. After this, the protection of the child from Chhathi Maiya and the happiness of the entire family is sought by devotees.

After worship, devotees drink sharbat (juice) and raw milk along with eating a little prasad to break one’s fast which is called Paran.

Also read: Chhath Puja 2020: Six recipes you must try during the festival

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