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Chhath Puja History and Significance

Chhath Puja History and Significance

Chhath Festival: Chhath, the primary celebration of sun worship, is dedicated to acknowledging the self-respect and self-reliance inherent in nature. The sun, considered Adidev, symbolizes the factor of creation and tirelessly continues its work without discrimination. It sustains life by providing energy and heat, exemplifying the principles of Karmayoga and self-reliance.

The moon, stars, and the entire universe are illuminated by the sun’s support, making the Chhath festival a profound expression of reverence and gratitude towards nature. All items used in this festival are natural, underscoring its essence as a celebration of nature. Lord Surya Narayan, also known as Bhuvan Bhaskar, holds a revered status worldwide, with references to sun worship found in Uttara Paedic literature and epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Even before the Gupta period, a sect of sun worshipers known as the ‘Solar’ Nan existed, venerating Surya as Adidev. Geographically, sun worship was widespread in India, with centers such as Madhura, Multan, Kashmir, Konark, and Ujjaini. Chhath stands as the current embodiment of the grand tradition of Suryopasna.

Historical accounts showcase the significance of sun worship in various contexts. Atri Suni and King Ashwapati are notable figures who worshiped the sun. Hanuman learned grammar in the company of the sun, Nachiketa received Karmayoga teachings from Yama, and Mahavir Vaikartan (Karna) was born with the brightness of the sun.

Legends abound regarding the divine connections forged through sun worship. Lord Krishna received the Sudarshan Chakra, Lord Rama won over Ravana with Aditya Hridaya Stotra, and Surya’s wife Sangya birthed the Ashwini Kumars in the northeast. Chhathi Mata, regarded as the power of Surya, is an integral part of the Chhath festival, symbolizing the collaboration between Surya and Shashthi Devi in protecting the world.

The glory of the sun in Indian culture has been celebrated since ancient times. Lord Surya is considered the direct deity, embodying Purna Brahm. The Vedas, Suryo Upanishad, Chakshu Upanishad, and Srimad Bhagavad Gita elaborate on the laws and principles of sun worship.

In the Gita, Lord Krishna affirms that Surya is an integral part of the cosmic order, representing different forms at different times of the day. The scriptures reveal that God imparted the wisdom of Karmayoga to the Sun at the beginning of creation, emphasizing the role of actions in the light of the Sun.

The tradition of sun worship continues in India, with the Chhath festival being celebrated biannually. This festival, marked by rituals like ‘Nahay Khay’ and concluding with Paran, emphasizes gratitude and faith, uniting people of Bihar province and transcending geographical boundaries.

Some associate the Chhath festival with agriculture, citing the correlation between crop harvesting and solar cycles. The festival becomes a cultural identity for Bihar, fostering unity and appreciation for nature and culture. Regardless of location, people gather near water bodies, fostering a sense of equality and celebrating their connection with nature during the Chhath festival.

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