Chaitra (or Chaiti) Chhath Puja was celebrated by a large number of devotees with great enthusiasm in Bihar. It concluded this Friday with devotees taking bath in river Ganga and offering morning argh to the Sun.
Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to Nepal and the Indian state of Bihar.The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun and his wife Usha in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.
The worshipper fasts without a sip of water for continuous 36 hours. The third day is the main day when prayers are offered to the setting Sun and on the fourth-day prayers are offered to the rising Sun. It is celebrated twice a year, once in the month of Kartik and again in the month of Chaitra. It is a four-day long festival and the rituals are rigorous. This is the only festival which reveres the rising Sun as well as the setting Sun. The Goddess who is worshipped during Chhath Pooja is known as Chhathi Maiyya. She is the wife of Surya, the Sun God.
It is believed that the ritual of Chhath puja may even predate the ancient Vedas texts, as the Rigveda contains hymns worshipping the Sun god and describes similar rituals.
The rituals also find a reference in the Sanskrit epic poem Mahābhārata in which Draupadi is depicted as observing similar rites. Chhath is primarily a Hindu festival but is also celebrated by some of the people of the Islamic religion. It is celebrated not just in India but in several other countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica where Biharis are in large number. Environmentalists claim that Chhath is the most Eco-friendly Hindu festival