The four-day-long Hindu festival, Chhath Puja, dedicated to the Sun God, began today. Devotees from several parts of the country celebrate the festival by observing fast and offering prayers to the Sun God by taking a dip in the river. However, this year, the coronavirus pandemic has dampened the festive spirit as celebrations would be low-key and gatherings limited.
During this period of Chhath Puja, devotees pay tribute to Surya Devata (Sun God) and thank him for showering his gracious rays on the Earth.
Here are the rituals that are performed during the four-day celebration period of Chhath Puja, also known as Prathihar, Dala Chhath, Chhathi, and Surya Shashthi.
Day one: The first day of the Puja is referred to as Nahay Khay. On this day the family prepares a traditional meal and serves it as bhog in the afternoon.
Day two: On the second day of Chhath puja, Kharna, the women observe Nirjala vrata (fast without drinking even a drop of water) from sunrise to sunset. They break their fast only in the evening after worship the sun during the sunset. They prepare sweets, mainly kheer as prasad.
Day three: The third day ritual for the Chhath puja is called Sandhya Arghya and is also observed as the most important day of the festival. On this day, women observe a day-long fast and break it only the following day after sunrise.
Day four: The festivities conclude on the fourth and final day after devotees perform the Usha Arghya (meaning offering prayers to the rising sun). Usha is believed to be the consort of the Sun God. People perform the puja during the sunrise time and then break their fast.
Chhath Puja is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh in India and the neighbouring country, Nepal.