Diwali and Bhai Dooj are just over, however, the festive occasions have not ended yet. Chhath Puja, the festival that worships Lord Surya Dev (Sun God) and Shashthi Devi (Chhathi Maiya), has begun on November 18 this year. This holy festival is popularly celebrated in the states of Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The occasion begins with a ritual of Nahay Khay on the day of Chaturthi in the Shukla Paksha of Kartik month, which is two days before the Shashthi date or the Chhath Puja, day as per the traditional Hindu calendar.
The main Chhath Puja falls on November 20 this year. The sunrise on November 20 will take place at 06:48 am and the sun will set at 05:26 pm. The Shashthi Tithi will begin at 09:59 pm on November 19 and end at 09:29 pm on November 20.
The devotees worship the first ray of sunrise in the morning and the last ray of the sunset in the evening. During the festival, women observe fast for the well-being, energy, prosperity, and progress of the sons and the happiness of their family.
The time and rituals of the four days of Chhath Puja festival are as follows:
Day 1 – Nahay Khay (Chaturthi)
Nahay Khay is the first day of the Chhath Puja celebrations which falls on November 18 this year. On this day, people clean their house and prepare a special vegetarian meal. The main worshiper will observe a fast and cook the food and offer it to the deity. The devotees break their fast on the next day after performing the prayers to the sunrise.
Day 2 – Kharna (Panchami)
The second day of the Chhath festival, Kharna is on November 19. The devotees keep fast for the whole day and make kheer and roti to serve as prasad to the deity in the evening. They also offer fruits and other sweet dishes, which are later distributed to family and friends.
Day 3 – ‘Chhath Puja’ Sandhya Arghya (Shashthi)
The main occasion of the Chhath Puja falls on November 20 this year. People observe a full day fast without water on this day. Offering the Arghya (incense sticks) to the setting sun is the main ritual of the day. The devotees prepare Thekua prasad, which is made from jaggery and flour.
Later in the evening, devotees will visit a river or pond to offer pehli arghya to the Surya Dev. Fasting will continue throughout the night and they will break the fast at the dawn of the fourth day.
Day 4 – Usha Arghya, Parana Day (Saptami)
On the fourth day of the Chhath Puja, the ritual that is performed in the early morning is called Usha Arghya, which also means offering to the rising sun. People break their fast after offering food to the rising sun, which marks the completion of the Chhath Puja festival.