Chhath Parva - Festival To Worship Sun God
People of Terai region celebrate the four days long Chhath Parva and worship the setting sun on Chhath Puja and rising sun on the following day.
Chhath Parva is a four days long festival celebrated by people of Terai region in Nepal. Also people of some parts of India celebrate this festival. The parva starts on Kartik Shukla Shashti in the month of November. The Chhath Puja falls on Kartik Shukla Shashthi which is also the sixth day after Lakshmi Puja of Tihar Festival.
People celebrate this festival to thank Lord Suriya (Hindu god of Sun) as it is the source of life on earth. They make offerings to him for blessing mother earth with life. They worship the setting and rising sun in a proper vedic way. People believe that bathing and worshiping the Sun also cures skin disease.
Goddess Katyayani or Mansha Devi worshipped on the sixth day of Dashain Festival is worshipped as "Chhatti Mata" on this festival. People ask “Chhathi Maiya'' for fulfillment of specific requests. Likewise, Chhathi mata also protects children from unnatural deaths.
Legends Behind Chhath Parva
Chhath parva as per old scripts was started by King Priyavrat, who is also famous as the son of Swayambhu (the first man on earth). As per the story, Priyavrat’s wife had a stillbirth despite Priyavrat being blessed by lord Brahma. So, Chhathi maiya (daughter of lord Brahma) visited Priyavrat and blessed his son with life. After that, people believe that she is the one protecting every child on earth. Which is a common story behind Chhath parva.
Likewise, people believe that King Karna (lord Surya and Kunti’s son in Mahabharata) performed Chhath Parva. It is also a common belief that pandavas wife 'Draupadi' performed the Puja which helped Pandavas to regain their lost kingdom.
Different events (days) in Chhath Parva
On the four days long Chhath parva, people offer Sun god with Arghya in their own homes for the first two days. Then they go to the river or pond to offer Arghya to the sun god on the last two days.
- First day: Nahaye Khaye (first day)
- Second Day: Rasiaav-Roti or Rasiya Roti
- Third Day: Sandhya Arghya
- Fourth day: Usha Arghya
Nahaye Khaye is the first day of Chhath Parva. The word 'Nahaye Khaye' means 'take a bath and eat food'. On this day, people clean their houses, take baths, and offer prasad to the sun god in the morning and in the evening. The whole family eats prasad together after offering it to Lord Suriya.
Rasiaav-Roti or Rasiya Roti
Rasiaav-Roti or Rasiya Roti is the second day of Chhath Parva. This event is one of the hardest parts of this festival. People don’t even eat or drink a single drop of water on this day until sunset. People perform special puja and worship the mother who fasts for their children as Chhathi maiya. Then they eat kheer, roti, and puri at night.
On the third day, people take the Arghya to the banks of various water sources to perform Chhath puja. They decorate the argha stored in a bamboo basket with fruits, thekua and rice laddus then offer it to the setting sun. Likewise, they also offer jal ('holy water') and milk to the setting sun. After they worship the sun in the evening, they sing songs about Chhathi maiya and hear the Varta Katha.
Usha means morning and arghya means offering. So, on the fourth day, devotees again visit the river or pond before the sunrise. They offer a final arghya to the rising Sun. People believe that the morning arghya helps bring wellness, happiness, peace and good health in the family. After worshipping the rising sun, devotees drink mink and eat prasad to break the fast.
Chhath parva teaches us a lesson of keeping the waterfronts clean. Likewise, it is also a homage paid to the Sun (source of life on earth). Worship of Chhati Maiya also symbolises respecting women in the society.
Nowadays, some people from the hilly region in Nepal also celebrate this festival. It's no surprise that people of Kathmandu perform Chhath Puja in places like Ranipokhari, bank of Bagmati River, and Kamalpokhari with huge acceptance, every year.