Friday, November 16, 2007

Chhath Pooja

Chhath Pooja by Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka
Chhath is celebrated as thanks to the Sun God for providing the necessities of life on earth, and also for fulfilling particular wishes.


It is commonly believed that the desires of the devotees are always fulfilled during Chhath. Also, the devotees dread the punishment for any misdeed during Chhath. The city remains safe and experiences peace during this time when even criminals prefer to behave.

The Days of Festivity:

The festival of Chhath is unique to Nepal and is marked by 4 day long celebrations and rituals.

Day 1:

The devotees bathe in the holy rivers and ponds to wash away their sins. They also clean their homes thoroughly.

Day 2:

The devotees observe a fast for the whole day, which is broken in late evening, after performing the pooja (worship ceremony) at home. They offer kheer (rice pudding) and fruit to the God and then this is shared with family and friends.

Day 3:

The day is spent preparing the prasad (offerings) at home. In the evening the devotees go to a riverbank or a pond where the prasad is offered to the setting sun. The devotees with their family and friends return home for another colorful celebration. Under a canopy of sugar cane sticks, clay elephants which contain earthen lamps, and containers full of the offerings, are placed Agni (the fire god) is worshipped.

Day 4:

On the final day of the festivities the devotees, family and friends go to the riverbank. Prasad is offered to the rising sun, this time. The devotees break their fast and the prasad is shared with all the people around.

The Festivities and The Rituals:

Chhath is a very joyous and colorful festival. All the people dress up in their best.

Devotional folk songs are sung both at home and on the riverbank. Millions of people gather at the banks of holy rivers and ponds to celebrate Chhath.

The streets are kept spotlessly clean by volunteers, who also decorate all the streets leading to the river.

The prasad includes sweets and fruit kept in small baskets made of bamboo strips.

The food is strictly vegetarian and it is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis on put on maintaining the purity of the food.

Once a family starts Chhath Pooja, it is continued annually by the following generations. If unable to perform the pooja themselves for personal reasons, it is recommended that one should assist someone else who is performing the pooja by providing funds or the prasad instead of completely missing the pooja.

The splendor of Chhath is some thing to experience and enjoy. There are beautiful folk songs sung for Chhath. It is sad that most of them are passed down in families but are not recorded for others to hear and enjoy.

Sun rising on the Ganga Sagar at Janakpur.

About to take a dip… by Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka
A man about to immerse in Ganga Sagar a holy pond in Janakpur on the occasion of Chhath pooja.

Thousands of devotees gathered on the banks of the Holy River and ponds to pay respects to the Sun God. Special prayers were conducted for the welfare and prosperity of their families. Preferably, it is the bounty of fresh harvest, which is considered apt offering to the Sun God.

The festival is celebrated six days after Tihar. It is especially significant for married women. They observe a two-day fast and offer prayers while keeping almost three-quarters of their body immersed in water for two hours.

The Holy bath by Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka
Devotees are taking holy bath at the ghats in Ram Sagar, another holy pond in Janakpurdham on the occasion of Chhath pooja.

Heads all the way… by Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka
Peoples are enjoying the last day of the Chhath pooja at the ghats in Ganga Sagar, a holy pond in Janakpur.

Find out more about Chhath pooja at here.

May Sun God fulfills your all dream, Have a happy Chhath pooja to you all!!
Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka

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