How Is Chhath Puja Connected To The Ramayana And Mahabharata?
Chhath Puja is a Hindu festival deeply rooted in devotion and gratitude towards the Sun God, Surya. This year 2023, the festival spans from November 17 to November 20.
The tradition of worshipping the Sun God during Chhath Puja is ancient, dating back to the Vedic era. It’s a time when devotees express their thanks for the Sun’s life-giving energy and seek blessings for prosperity and well-being.
The origins of this festival are intertwined with Hindu epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In the Mahabharata, it’s believed that the practice began with Karna, a son of the Sun God. He would stand in the water for hours, offering prayers to the Sun in the morning, setting a precedent for future devotees.
Similarly, the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi observed this ritual to regain their lost kingdom and honor, marking its significance in their journey back to Hastinapur.
In the Ramayana, the connection to Chhath Puja is seen when Lord Rama, after his return from exile and the defeat of Ravana, decides to perform the Rajasuya Yagya. Advised by sages, Rama and his wife, Sita, observe rituals related to Sun worship, marking the festival’s significance in this epic as well.
Chhath Puja is primarily celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Nepal, but its observance has spread to other parts of India, including Delhi and Mumbai. In 2023, the festival rituals are spread over four days.
- The first day, Nahay Khay, involves taking a holy bath and eating a satvik meal.
- The second day, Lohanda and Kharna, is marked by a strict fast, followed by a special meal in the evening.
- The third and fourth days, Sandhya and Usha Arghya, involve offering prayers and water to the setting and rising Sun, respectively.
These rituals symbolize purification, devotion, and gratitude towards the Sun God. Devotees gather at riverbanks, wearing traditional attire and singing folk songs, creating an atmosphere of communal harmony and familial bonding. Women, in particular, observe strict fasts and lead the rituals, showcasing their devotion and strength.
Chhath Puja, therefore, is not just a religious observance but a cultural festival that brings communities together, celebrating life, nature, and the divine. Its history and significance are deeply embedded in Indian culture, representing a blend of ancient history reverence and social unity.