Today is Chhath., a main day of Chhath Puja. An ancient Hindu Vedic festival, Chhath is dedicated to solar deity Surya and Shashthi Devi, thanking them for bestowing life on earth. It is primarily observed in Southern part of Nepal , Kathmandu Valley and Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. With the rise of COVID-19 cases, devotees are celebrating the festival in low profile.
The festival interestingly does not involve idolatry. It is believed that the main sources of the sun’s powers are his wife Usha and Pratyusha. Chhath, therefore involves combined worship of both powers along with the Sun.
Chhath puja is mentioned in both Ramayana and Mahabharata. In Ramayana, Sita performed Surya Shashthi or Chhath Puja on the day Ramrajya was established. In Mahabharata, the puja was performed by Kunti after they escaped from Lakshagrih.
The festival is traditionally observed over a period of four days. The rituals are rigorous. Devotees do bathe in holy water, fast and even abstain from drinking water, and offer prayers to the setting and rising sun. It is not a gender-specific festival as many men also observe it.
Kheer, thekua and fruits are some of the traditional prasad offerings. The foods prepared are strictly vegetarian and cooked without table salt, onion and garlic.