Janakpurdham, 30 October : The rituals associated with the Chhath festival are commencing from Thursday. Chhath is a festival mainly dedicated to the Sun God. It is a cultural and religious festival that indicates to the human civilization and an occasion for expressing gratitude to the nature. The sun is especially worshiped amidst various rituals and by making different kinds of offerings.
The main rituals of the festival, observed in succession in a period of four days, include the arba-arbain, kharana, offering argha to the setting sun and offering argha to the rising sun. The arba-arbain ritual is observed on the first day (Chaturthi) which falls on Thursday this year. This ritual is also called nahaya-khaya.
The devotees start observing fast from this day abstaining from eating meat and fish, onion, garlic, millet and yellow lentils. They take holy dips in ponds and rivers on this day in the early morning and start the fast. On the second day (Panchami), the kharana ritual is observed, which is also known as ‘diluting away the sins’.
The place where the Chhath rituals are conducted is daubed with a mixture of cow dung and water. A paste prepared by mixing the Arba rice flour and holy water is sprinkled over the place and the altar for performing the Chhath rituals is anointed. The devotees observe a complete fast on this day even without drinking water.
They offer payas (rice pudding) to the moon after moon rise and partake this offering. On the third day of the festival (Shasthi), various delicacies are prepared out of the flour of rice and wheat grains grinded in traditional grinders (okhal, jaanto or dhiki). All the members of the family go to the assigned water body, ponds or the bank of the river, carrying a variety of offerings, amidst the singing of devotional and folk songs.
The offerings include the delicacies like thakuwa, bhusawa, khajuri, perukiya; fruits like coconut, orange, banana, citrus fruits; and other articles as nanglo, koniya, saraba, dhakan, elephant terracotta idol. These offerings are all carried in a big basket. Before placing the offerings on the bank of the river or pond, the devotees prostrate five times in front of the spot and the offerings.
The members of the family draw the ‘aripan’ sketches as per the tantric methods at the place beforehand to sanctify it. Thereafter, the devotees step into the water of the pond and river and worship the setting sun for making the offerings. The parvan rituals are observed on the fourth day or the last day of the Chhath festival.
On this day, the devotees go to the bank of the pond or river to the place which is specially anointed for the rituals in the early morning. They repeat the rituals conducted in the previous evening and make offerings of argha to the rising sun. After done with the argha rituals, the devotees listen to the chanting of the Surya Purana scripture by the priests.
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