India - Chhat Festival of India

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Chhat Festival of India

Biharis are among the hardest working people in India, and no wonder, their festival is also as tough! In the Chhat puja the sun God is worshipped. It is somewhat like the ancient Egyptian practices, where nature, especially the sun is feared, and worshipped.

Chhat Puja is celebrated for four days, in the month of October/November. A Bihari will never miss his rituals of Chhat puja even if he has left his home and is in distant lands. The purity of the heart and body, which people observe during these four days, is something unique to this festival.
Sun is believed to be the source of life on this earth and is regarded as a wish fulfiller. Hence, He is much revered. Even the anti socials stay away from crime and prefer to be pious. There is fear factor among the people in general, along with the festive spirit.

On the first day of the ceremony, the devotees 'wash away their sins' by taking a dip in the Ganga River which is the holiest of the rivers, and they prepare their offerings with its sacred and pure waters.
The next day is spent fasting. In late evening, offerings are first made to the Sun God and then people have food. Generally, 'kheer', resembling rice pudding, 'puris', somewhat like deep oil fried puffs, and bananas are offered.

On the third day, more elaborate offerings are prepared at home. Special care is taken to maintain the purity of the food prepared. In the evenings all the devotees make offerings to the Sun God and then they return home to worship the fire God amid much joyous atmosphere.

On the last day, the festivities are at its peak. Everyone goes to the banks of the river, offer food to the rising sun and then celebrate with a lot of zest and vigour.

Chhat is a very colorful and joyous festival. Everyone dresses up for it and there is a lot of excitement in the atmosphere. There is celebration everywhere, and all the people are in an excited festive mood.
There is music in the air with loud speakers blaring devotional music. It is a like a big get together for the entire community when everyone goes to the banks of the river to worship the Sun God.

Luckily, due to migration, one can see pockets of Chhat puja being held all over the country these days. In fact Chhat is one such festival that can be enjoyed by just anyone and everyone. The jubilation and festive gaiety of the people of Bihar during Chhat is some thing to be experienced and enjoyed!


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