Chhath Puja:

Chhath Puja is a traditional Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, Surya, and Chhathi Maiya (Usha or Chhathi Mata), the goddess who is believed to be the sister of Surya. This ancient festival is primarily observed by people from the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and the Madhesh region of Nepal. Chhath Puja is performed to express gratitude and seek blessings for well-being, prosperity, and the longevity of family members.
The festival is celebrated over a period of four days, usually in the months of October or November, six days after Diwali. The rituals of Chhath Puja are quite rigorous and are observed with great devotion. Here’s an overview of the four days of Chhath Puja:

1. Nahay Khay (Day 1): 

The first day is known as Nahay Khay, which means “bath and eat.” Devotees take a dip in a holy river, preferably the Ganges, and bring back water from the river to prepare offerings. They observe a fast on this day and break it in the evening after offering prayers to the setting sun. The meal prepared is strictly vegetarian and is consumed only once on this day.

2. Lohanda and Kharna (Day 2):

On the second day, devotees observe another day-long fast. The evening rituals involve preparing kheer (a sweet rice pudding) and roti (unleavened bread) and offering it to the moon after sunset. This offering is then consumed along with sugar and jaggery.

3. Sandhya Arghya (Day 3):

The third day is the main day of Chhath Puja. Devotees observe a strict fast without water for the entire day. In the evening, they go to the riverbank, accompanied by family and friends, to offer prayers to the setting sun. The offerings, including fruits, sugarcane, and thekua (a traditional wheat-based sweet), are made to the Sun God. The worshippers stand in the water and offer these items to the setting sun, chanting prayers and hymns.

4. Usha Arghya (Day 4):

On the fourth day, devotees return to the riverbank before sunrise to offer prayers to the rising sun. This is called Usha Arghya. After this final offering, the fast is broken, and the prasad (offering) is distributed among family members and other devotees.

Chhath Puja is a significant cultural and spiritual event, emphasizing purity and discipline. Devotees believe that by observing these rituals, they will be blessed with good health, happiness, and prosperity. The festival also promotes environmental conservation, as it is performed in natural water bodies, highlighting the importance of clean rivers and lakes in Hindu traditions.