The Hindu festival devoted exclusively to the Sun God, Surya -- Surya Chhath, also called Dala Chhath and Suryashashthi -- is celebrated with much passion and religious fervor throughout Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and the Terai areas of Nepal.
The origin of Chhath Puja can be traced back to the age of the Rig-Veda. The holy scriptures contain hymns worshiping the Sun god and describe comparable rituals.
Chhath is the only occasion when the setting sun -- the deity of energy and of the life-force - is feted for its glory as the cycle of birth begins with death. The Chhath Puja is performed to express gratitude and to thank the God for supporting and nurturing life on earth, and to request the granting of specific boons.
People worship the Sun god for well-being, affluence and progress. Worshipping the Sun God is also believed to help heal several diseases, such as leprosy. It is believed that worshipping the Sun God ensures longevity and prosperity of near and dear ones.
The Ritual of Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja continues for four days. Its rituals are pretty demanding physically. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing knee deep in water for long durations, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aghrya or Soop to the setting and rising sun. The Arghya consists of, among others, flowers, fruits, dry coconut, sugarcane, sprouted grains, white radish, khajurees and sweets.
Chhat Puja 2013 Dates
The main Chhath puja is on November 8 and November 9. While Sandhya Argh (Chhat Dala Evening puja) is on November 8, the Suryodaya Argh (Chhath Dala Morning puja) is on November 9. Nahai Khai is on November 6, and Kharna is on November 7.