Chhath Puja is one of the major Hindu festivals, which is dedicated to the solar deity, Lord Surya, and his sister Chhathi Maiya. It is primarily celebrated in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, west Bengal and a few parts of Nepal.
Chhath Puja is also known as ‘Surya Shashti’, ‘Chhath’, ‘Chhathi’, ‘Chhath Parv’, ‘Dala Puja’ and ‘Dala Chhath’.
Chhath is celebrated six days after Diwali and lasts for four days. Every year, it falls on the sixth day of the Kartikeya month of the Hindu calendar. On this day, devotees gather to pray for prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, worshipping the sun is also believed to cure diseases, apart from providing hope for the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
Environmentalists have claimed that the festival of Chhath is one of the most eco-friendly religious festivals in the World. All devotees prepare similar prasada (religious food) and offerings. Although the festival is observed most widely in the Terai region of Nepal and the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, it is also prevalent in areas where the diaspora and migrants from those areas have a presence. It is celebrated in all northern regions and major north Indian urban centers like Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate it in Mumbai.
Chhath puja is dedicated to the sun god Surya. The sun is visible to every being and is the basis of life of all creatures on earth. Along with the Sun God, Chhathi Maiya is also worshipped on this day. According to Vedic astrology, Chhathi Maiya (or Chhathi Mata) protects the children from diseases and problems and gives them long lives and good health.
As per legends, Chhath Puja stems from the early Vedic period, where sages would fast for days and perform the puja with mantras from Rigveda. It is believed that Chhath Puja was also performed by Karna, the son of Lord Surya and the king of Anga Desh, which is the modern-day Bhagalpur in Bihar. According to another legend, Pandavas and Draupadi also performed the Puja to overcome obstacles in their lives and reclaim their lost kingdom. For the people from Bihar and other close by areas, Chhath Puja is considered as Mahaparva.