Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and the Nepalese provinces of Madhesh and Lumbini. Prayers during Chhath puja are dedicated to the solar deity, Surya, to show gratitude and thankfulness for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request that certain wishes be granted.
Chhath Puja is in practice since Vedic ages. It is said that Karna, who was the son of the Sun, performed this puja. Karna was the king of Anga Desh, which is believed to be present-day Bhagalpur in Bihar. It is also said that Draupadi had also observed this fast in order to beat the obstacles and hurdles that had come in hers and Pandavas’ life. It is also said that Sita was blessed with Luv and Kush after she did the Chhath Puja.
Chhath is observed for four days. The first day is called Nahaay Khay. On this day, people take a holy bath and clean their entire house and the living premises. Following this, a pure satwik meal comprising lauki or bottle gourd, bengal gram lentils are prepared. This is served along with rice to the deity as prasad or bhog. The worshiper consumes this prasad and begins the fast.
The second day is called Rasiaav-Roti or Lohanda. This is also called Kharna. On this day, the worshiper abstains from even having a drop of water. In the evening they have rasiaav or a kheer made of jaggery and roti.
The third day is called Sanjhka Aragh. In the entire day, people made prasad or bhog for the deity and in the evening they offer these to the Sun as Arghya. The Arghya is offered at a riverbank, or pond. People who do not have access to riverbanks, make a temporary pond and offer the Arghya to the Sun.
The prasad or the bhog that is offered to the Sun comprises Thekua, Khajuria, Tikri and other food items prepared with fruits, coconut and banana as main ingredients. These foods are strictly vegetarian and are cooked without onion and garlic. During the entire puja, non-vegetarian food items are not allowed within the household.
The fourth day is called Bhorka Aragh. This is the same as the third day, except the arghya is offered to the rising Sun. After this the worshippers break the fast.
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