If you thought the biggest celebration in the Hindu calendar was Diwali you were right, but for Biharis Chaath Puja comes a very close second. Preparation starts today with the celebrations coming to a climax on the 5th and 6th November
When is it? That’s easy. Chaath Puja always takes place six days after Diwali, but preparations start a few days earlier. The full festival lasts for a period of four days.
Okay, what is it all about? This is where it gets a little more difficult, but I’ll wrap it up for you in ten words. Here goes; The festival is all about worshipping the Sun God, Surya.
Happy with that?
Come on. Give me a little bit more? You asked for it. Here’s what happens on each of the four days of Chaath Puja.
Nahan Khan is the first day (today, the 3rd November 2016). The faithful take to water, a lake, a pond or a river, and collect some its water to take home. The water will be used in a puja to prepare prasad (offerings) to the Sun God. Devotees take one meal on Nahan Khan.
The second day is called Lohanda (also called Kharna) and women fast until sunset. After they break their fast a second period of fasting commences. The women will not now eat or drink for 36 hours.
On third day the women return to the same water source with family and friends before the sun starts to set. They will enter the water and offer sandhya arghya (evening offerings) as the sun goes down.
Some men perform this part of the poja too. Other males travel down to the ghats on their stomachs, worshipping the sun as they go. Why? Well, it could be to offer thanks to the Sun God, to show their devotion or as an act of penance.
The fourth and final day will see the women rise before the sun at the same water source and offer prayers to the Sun God. When the sun has risen it’s time to leave the water, travel back home and offer prasad (offerings) to family members and friends.
So, why does it happen? I don’t know, but I know a man who does.
If you want to find out more this man has all the answers.