India is a land of fasts and festivals, and also only one country in the world where ancient tradition and cults are exist. Festivals in India have very close affinity with the nature and Chhath Puja is one of those festivals. It is celebrated after one week of Diwali that is riverside rituals in which the Sun God or Surya is worshiped, giving it the name of ‘Suryasasthi.
The festival is dedicated to Sun and Chhathi Maiya (Mother Shashti or Usha). The devotee offer their gratitude to the Sun God Surya along with the Goddesses- Usha (first rays of the morning) and Pratyusha (last rays of the evening) because it is believe that the Sun is a prime source of energy that sustains all lives on the Earth.
It is four days festival which is celebrated with rigorous and strict manners of preparation. So, during the period the devotee (those who practice) becomes separate from the main family for maintaining chastity as well as purity. The prasad and food (for devotees) is cooked without salt, onions or garlic which is accomplished and accompanied by four days of preparation.
The devotees takes bath from holy water of Ganga and surroundings of house purified with Ganga Jal (Water). They take only one time meal i.e. Kaddu-bhat which cooked in the bronze or soil utensils by using mango wood fire over soil stove.
The devotees holds fast for whole day and break their fast after worship of the sun God in the evening with Rasiao-kheer, puris and fruits. After fast breaking they again go for fast without water for the next 36 hours.
The devotees offer Santhya Arghya at the riverside (bank of river) then after they wore turmeric colour saree. In the night of this day, the devotee celebrates the vibrant event of filling Kosi (Kosia Bharai) by lighting clay diyas under the five sugarcane stick with folk song of Chhathi Maiya. This sugarcane stick represents the Panchatattva (Earth, Air, water, fire and Space).
This is a final day of Chhath Puja in which devotees along with family and friends offer Bihaniya Aragh (Early Morning Offering) to the Sun God at the riverside (bank of river). And at last the devotees end their fast with Chhath Puja Prasad.
Chhath Puja is completed in six stages of purity. First- detoxification of Body & Soul; Second- Standing in the water at riverside during araghya (Sanjhiya & Bihaniya), so that half part of body should in the water and half part out of water for elevating to the sushumna; Third- This stage is known as Triveni Complex that opens the entrance of cosmic solar energy in the body; Fourth- In this stage Triveni Complex get activated; Fifth- The devotees transformed into a cosmic powerhouse and gets the Kundalini Shakti by Triveni Complex. Sixth- It is last process of purification of soul & body that makes the body to recycle and pass on the energy into entire universe.
Ramayana and Mahabharta both epic book refers that the festival being celebrated by Sita (after Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya), and by Draupadi. It has also Vedic roots in which Goddesses Usha is mentioned and hence, several mantras are dedicated to her. It is also folk belief that puja was firstly started by Surya Putra Karn.
9. The devotees, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv which means 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women but a large number of men also observe this festival. They pray for the well-being of their family, and for the prosperity of their offsprings. Sacred of the festival could be also imagine that Chhath Puja special trains are announced every year by Indian Railway to clear extra festive rushes.
10. It is celebrated in the Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Macau, Japan, and Indonesia by Bihari aboriginal migrant.