Chhath festival is here. Wishes and songs about the festival, which is mainly celebrated in Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are doing the rounds on social media. But this festival is not just about that. The three-day festival involves elaborate preparation as devotees try to attain both mental and physical purity before offering prayers to the Sun. Some devotees even stand in water for 1-2 hours before the sunset of second day and the sunrise of the third day of the festival.
To say it correctly, the beauty of this festival lies not just in celebrations but the rigour with which people observe it. For this, people from all over the country make it a point to go back to their homes during Chhath, which comes six days after Diwali. Those who can’t, try to celebrate it at their current towns and cities of residence. In recent years, news of devotees celebrating Chhath in foreign countries have also appeared.
Chhath is unique and awesome in many ways. Here are at least five reasons for it:
Chhat is about cleanliness and taking care of the water bodies
At a time when cleanliness and poor condition of water bodies have become talking points across the country, this festival has been addressing both issues for centuries.
The festival connects people to the water bodies – rivers and ponds. In rural Bihar, weeks before the festival, people from all walks of life start cleaning the river banks and areas surrounding local waterbodies. While during Diwali, focus is on cleaning homes, during Chhath, for once in a year people, including children, move out of their homes to the ponds and rivers.
Worship of the Sun
Sun is the source of life for all living things on Earth. Chhath is probably the only festival during which people pay their obeisance to the Sun and seek blessings for their well being. And they do it not from their homes, but near the water bodies.
The confluence of people, nature and festivities near the water bodies at dawn and dusk leave a lasting impression, making everyone to wait for the day to come again next year.
The festival is about making wishes and making offerings to the Sun to realise them. The offerings are made through different ways – fruits, sweets, home-cooked sweet delicacies, and even through physical means like making a pledge to stand in water at dawn and dusk.
The festival is celebrated with utmost discipline. It is said no wishes can be fulfilled if rigorous discipline is not maintained. Devotees stop eating non-vegetarian dishes and observe fast for over 50 hours.
A truly secular festival
The Sun has no religion. It powers all creatures on earth. Chhath should not be seen as the festival of a particular religion. At a time when we are debating so much about secular-communal issues, it may surprise many that not just Hindus, many Muslim families also celebrate the festival in parts of Bihar.
Not only this, for once in a year, people shun caste differences and gather around a pond or on the banks of the same river in their respective areas. How beautiful is that? Imagine.