Location : Bihar
Dedicated to : Sun God.
Held in : The months of October-November.
Period of Celebration : 4 days.
The Colourful Festival
Almost all civilizations have worshipped the 'sun god. But it has a exclusive form in Bihar. Chatt Puja is the only event where the setting sun is worshipped.0
The people of Bihar have immense faith in this festival. It is celebrated twice a year. Once in 'Chaitra' (according to the Hindu calendar) which falls in March and in 'Kartik ' which falls in November. For this 4-day festival, people maintain sanctity and purity from even a month ahead. People celebrate this festival with immense faith the folk songs sung in the honour of 'Surya Dev' and 'Chatti Maiyya' can be heard at every nook and corner the sweetness of the songs lets you feel the holiness of the festival.
Women fast for the good of their family and the society. Regardless of the social status, to celebrate this festival only the faith counts. Though it is a festival of the Hindus, some of the Muslims also participate actively in the puja.
There is a well-liked belief that all the desires of the devotees are always fulfilled during Chhath. Also, an element of fear is present among the devotees who dread the punishment for any misdeed during Chhath. The city remains safe and experiences peace during this time when criminals too prefer to be a part of the good.
The Days of Festivity
The festival of Chhath is exclusive to Bihar and is marked by 4 day long celebrations and rituals.
To clean away their sins, the devotees take a dip, preferably in the holy river Ganges and bring the river water to prepare the offerings.
The devotees monitor a fast for the whole day, which is broken in late evening, after performing worship at home. The offerings - typically porridge of rice, puris (deep-fried puffs of wheat flour) and bananas - are distributed among family and visiting friends and relatives.
It is spent preparing the offerings at home during the day. In the evening the devotees move to a riverbank or a pond. There, the offerings are made to the setting sun. At nightfall, the devotees along with the family and friends return home where another colorful celebration takes place. Under a canopy of sugar cane sticks, clay elephants containing earthen lamps, and containers full of the offerings, are placed. There the fire god is worshipped.
On the final day of the festivities of the grand festival, again the devotees, family and friends, move to the riverbank. Offerings are made to the growing sun, this time. At the completion of the offerings, there is great celebration. The devotees break their fast and the rich offerings are made to 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 and new clothes are a must. Clothes have to be unstitched and people sleep on the floor.
Loud and devotional music reverberates in the air, purifying the whole atmosphere. Folk songs are sung both at home and on the riverbank. Millions of people throng the banks of river Ganges, In Patna. All the people are busy merry making.
The streets are kept spotlessly clean by bands of volunteers, who also decorate all streets leading to the river with colorful festoons, ribbons, and banners.
The offerings of deep fried and sweet rolls of stone ground wheat flour, grapefruit, whole coconuts, bananas, and grains of lentils are also very peculiar. These items are contained in small, semicircular pans woven out of bamboo strips.
Strict saltless vegetarian menu is observed (even onions and garlic are considered unwanted during the entire festival period), all earthen vessels are reserved for the period only and all possible purity of food is adhered to.
The Places of Activity
Renowned for their sun temples, Deo in Aurangabad and Baragaon near Nalanda, are abuzz with activity. These are the places where the Chhath in Bihar can best be seen.
The temple at Deo faces west, unlike other sun temples in India that face East, and during the festival time it is the most crowded place. Forgetting all the barriers of caste, creed and colour, all the devotees throng the banks of the river to offer their prayers to the Sun god.
Bringing to the fore the jubilation and festive gaiety of the people of Bihar that transcends all the artificial social and economic barriers, the festival is more of a sacrifice which entails purificatory preparation.