Table of Contents
What does Chhath Festival mean?
Surya is a Sanskrit name for the Sun deity. Hindus worship the Sun God, Surya, and the cosmic goddess Chhathi Maiya (Maiya is a hindi-bhojpuri word for Mother)- she is considered the source of sunlight. Astrologically, the positioning of the sun, which is a central deity in this festival, aligns with this specific day, marking it as an auspicious time for worship and offerings to the sun god, Surya.
Chhath Puja, a four-day celebration held in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal, involves rigorous rituals and deep connection with nature.
The Four days celebration of Chhath Festival
- Holy Bath Day: The festivities began with the Nahai Khai ritual (taking food after a holy bath), during which devotees dipped in a sacred river or water body. After that, People observing fast on this day prepare Satvik food (vegetarian food without onion-garlic) in pure ghee on an earthen stove. The main dish is prepared from rice, gram dal, and Indian green pumpkin and is also distributed as Prasad(Holy food). Mango wood is burned as fuel, but any stove can be used nowadays.
- Day-long fast: Devotees observe a day-long fast during Chhath Puja, called Kharna, abstaining from food and water from sunrise to sunset. The fast is broken after performing evening prayers and offering food to the sun god, Surya. Devotees prepare a simple and traditional meal using jaggery, ghee, rice, fruits, and wheat flour. After offering this meal to the deities, it becomes prasad, which is then shared among family members and friends. Partaking in this prasad is believed to bring the participants blessings, prosperity, and good health.
- Evening Sun Worship Day: As the Sun sets on the third day of the Chhath festival, devotees gather at the water’s edge to perform the Sandhya Arghya ritual. They offer prayers, hymns, and unique offerings to the setting sun, symbolizing gratitude and reverence toward the source of light, energy, and life.
- Morning Sun Worship Day: As the Chhath Puja approaches, the Usha Arghya ritual marks the culmination of four days of devotion and gratitude towards the Sun God. With offerings arranged on trays made of bamboo or brass, devotees perform rituals standing in the water, seeking blessings for their families’ well-being, prosperity, and happiness. This ritual carries profound spiritual significance and reminds us of the power of faith and gratitude in our lives.
The vibrant colors of the traditional attire, the aroma of the offerings, and the melodious sounds of folk songs created an atmosphere reminiscent of the celebrations back in their homeland.
Why is the Chhath Festival celebrated in Kartik Month?
The month of Kartik is highly significant for Hindus as it holds immense spiritual and cultural importance. For several reasons, it is considered one of the holiest months in the Hindu calendar.
In Kartik month, Diwali marks the victory of good over evil and the new moon day (Amavasya). Many Hindus observe special prayers, fasting, and rituals throughout the Kartik month. They believe performing religious activities this month brings blessings and spiritual purification. Read more about Kartik month significance at https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/wisdom/article/kartik-month-significance
Kartik month is also mentioned in Hindu scriptures and epics like the Puranas and the Mahabharata, which enhances its significance in Hindu mythology and literature. In some regions, Kartik month is associated with Lord Vishnu, and devotees offer prayers and rituals dedicated to Vishnu during this time. Also read, “Why people love Lord Krishna” at https://journals-times.com/2023/09/06/what-made-lord-krishna-a-distinctive-player/
Chhath Festival holds profound cultural and spiritual significance
It is a festival that emphasizes purity, discipline, and gratitude towards the elements of nature. Devotees believe that by performing the rituals with utmost devotion, they seek the blessings of the Sun God for prosperity, well-being, and longevity. The festival is also a way of expressing gratitude to the Sun for sustaining life on Earth.
For the Indian community in Mason, celebrating Chhath Puja is not just a religious observance but a cultural bridge connecting them to their heritage. The festivities serve as a reminder of the rich traditions and values passed down through generations. It is an occasion for families to come together, share joy, and create lasting memories despite being far from their native land.
The Chhath Puja celebration in Mason, Ohio, exemplifies the resilience of cultural traditions and the power of community bonds.