Celebrating Chhath Puja

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. Nowadays, Chhath Puja is celebrated in other parts also where migrants from these areas have settled in.

In fact, it is celebrated in all regions and major cities of the country. 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 fêted 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 god for well-being, affluence and progress. Sun worship is also believed to help heal several diseases, such as leprosy. Its worship also helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of the near and dear ones.

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 2010 Dates

The main Chhath puja is on November 12 and November 13. While Sandhya Argh (Chhat Dala Evening puja) is on November 12, the Suryodaya Argh (Chhath Dala Morning puja) is on November 13. Nahai Khai is on November 10, and Kharna is on November 11.

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