Chhath Puja 2016, one of the biggest festivals of Bihar, is also widely celebrated in other states like Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Recent years have seen it being celebrated with great fanfare in the Capital City, Delhi too. This is perhaps due to the large population from these states that has now moved to Delhi. The festival involves worshiping and thanking the Hindu Sun God over a period of four days, during which most devotees keep a fast. Traditionally, the festival is observed twice a year - once during the summer season and the second during winters. Kartik Chhath is performed in the month of October-November and Chaiti Chhath falls in the early months of summer.This year, Chhath Puja is being celebrated from 4th-7th November. According to the lunar calendar, it falls on the sixth day of the Karthik month.Here's all you need to know about Chhath Puja:1. The festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the Hindu God of Sun.2. A devotee who observes a fast during chhath is called vrati. Devotees are expected to fast for four days.3. Chhath involves devotees praying at the riverbank during sunrise and sunset. Scientifically, the solar energy has lowest level of ultraviolet radiations during this time, which makes it beneficial for the body.4. The first day - nahai khai - starts by taking a dip in holy Ganges or by sprinkling ganga-jal (holy water) and worshiping the Sun God after which kaddu-bhaat (pumpkin curry and rice) along with channa dal is prepared and eaten.
5. On the first day, devotees abstain from eating, apart from the morning meal, until the next day's evening (kharna) where they eat kheer, chappatis and fruits. The second day is known as Lohand.6. The third day is called pehla argha/saandhya argha. Those on a fast, completely abstain from eating anything on this day. The sinking sun is worshiped and given offerings (argha) in the evening.7. The final day - doosra argha/suryoday argha - sees devotees giving argha and worshiping the sun early in the morning post which devotees break their fast (paran) by consuming the Chhath Prasad including kheer, sweets, thekua and fruits.8. Rice, wheat, fresh fruits, dry fruits, coconut, nuts, jaggery and dollops of ghee go into the making of traditional chhath meals as well as Chhath Prasad.9. Meals during chhath - especially the Chhath Prasad - are prepared strictly without onion, garlic and salt. Some devotees may use rock salt.10. The festival also marks the celebration of the new harvest. The offerings given to SuryaDevta include fruits and food preparation made with this fresh harvest.Happy Chhath Puja to one and all!
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