Chhath Puja 2021: Date, significance, rituals of Nahay Khay, Kharna and all about four-day festival

By | Edited by Parmita Uniyal
Nov 08, 2021 11:42 AM IST

Chhath Puja, a four-day ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiya, begins on November 8 this year with Nahay Khay and conclude on November 11. All you want to know about the festival.

Chhath Puja, a four-day ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun God) and Chhathi Maiya, celebrated after six days of Diwali or the sixth day of the month of Kartik, begins on November 8 this year with Nahay Khay and conclude on November 11 with Usha Arghya, the day when people break their 36-hour long ‘nirjala' fast after offering arghya to the rising sun.

Chhath Puja 2021(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Chhath Puja 2021(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

The festival is unique to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and the country of Nepal and is dedicated to Surya Bhagvaan (Lord Surya). Lord Surya is worshipped by Vratis or devotees for well-being, development and properity of their family members over a span of four days. Though women observe fast during Chhath more commonly, men can also do it.

The preparation for Chhath Puja begins a day after Diwali (November 5) as vratis start eating only Satvik food (without onion, garlic), prepare meals with utmost hygiene and eat only after taking a bath.

ALSO READ: BMC allows Chhath Puja celebrations with restrictions

Chhath Puja calendar

On the first day of Chhath Puja called Nahay Khay (November 8), vratis take a bath, wear clean clothes and prepare a prasad for Lord Surya. Chana daal and Kaddoo Bhaat is a popular prasad that devotees make on this day.

The second day of Chhath is called Kharna (November 9) where a prasad of kheer made with gud and arwa chawal is made. After having this prasad, devotees begin an arduous nirjala fast (without water) lasting for 36 hours.

On the third day of Chhath Puja (November 10), vratis observe fast without eating or consuming even a drop of water. Prasad of thekua made with jaggery, ghee and flour is prepared by the vratis for the puja. At sunset the vratis along with their family offer arghya to Lord Surya in a nearby water body, which is also known as Sandhya Arghya or Pehli Arghya. A lot of emphasis is laid on cleanliness and hygiene and the prasad must be not be touched with salt. The fast continues for the entire night till the sunrise of the next day.

On the fourth and final day of Chhath Puja (November 11), known as Paran Din, devotees offer Usha Arghya or Dusri Argya to the rising sun standing with their feet dipped in a water body, and conclude their fast and distribute prasad.

Chhath Puja legends

There are several legends associated with the origin of Chhath Puja and some even find mention in Rig Veda texts. It is believed that in ancient times, Draupadi and the Pandavas of Hastinapur used to celebrate Chhath in order to solve their issues and regain their lost kingdom. A few mantras from the Rig Veda texts are also chanted by worshippers while offering prayers to the Sun.

As per another legend, Chhath Puja was first performed by Karna, who is considered to be an offspring of Lord Surya and Kunti. He ruled over the Anga Desh which is the modern-day Bhagalpur in Bihar, during the age of Mahabharata.

It is also said that the sages of the Vedic era used to perform the puja by exposing themselves to direct sunlight to gain energy from the rays of the sun and did not consume any eatables.

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