Amidst the Dying Cultures, The Rising Culture of Chhath Puja
Festivals are meant for unity and Chhath Puja does it in all the ways
In India, every state has a specific culture and they are different from each other. Yet, the unity among people from different cultures, depict the ‘unity in diversity’. Chhath Puja is one of those festivals.
It is celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. As boundaries never bound the faith, so this festival is celebrated in the Madhesh region of Nepal also.
This festival is celebrated on the 6th day of Diwali and dedicated to Lord Sun and his sister Chhathi Maiyya. It is a way of thanksgiving to the sun for bestowing the bounties of life on earth along with celebration of homecoming of Chhati Maiyya.
The Vrati (people who fast for Chhath) keep the fast of 36 hours and it is a festival of 4 days, which starts on the 4th day after Diwali with “Nahaye Khaye”. After “Nahaye Khaye” next day is “Kharna” and then 1st Arag to the setting sun on “Shasti” (6th day) and 2nd Arag to rising sun on “Saptami” (7th day). The festival is celebrated twice a year, 1st in Chaitra (March or April) and then in Kartik (October or November, 6th day after Diwali).
Call for Homecoming
The festival is always linked with Bihar and most of the people from the state live outside, mostly to earn a livelihood and to pursue their higher studies. Be it to serve politics or any other reason, the state has lesser opportunities so, and people migrate from Bihar. Those who cannot take their family along live outside and send their earnings from time to time. But, it is considered that the entire family should be present to help Vrati and contribute their part in the rituals of Chhath Puja.
So, this festival becomes one of the reasons to unite the families in their hometown. It is very common to see people saying that, “Chhath par gaon nahin gaye, toh tyohaar waali feel nahi aati” (If don’t visit our hometown on Chhath Puja, it doesn’t feel like a festival). So, whenever there is Chhath Puja, people book their tickets to celebrate “Gaon Ka Chhath” (Chhath of Hometown).
Indian Railway and Govt. play their own role by running special trains to Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh during the festival. Also, they make special arrangements on stations as well as on the trains so, the people going to celebrate Chhath Puja, won’t face the problem.
High Media Coverage And Communal Harmony
Today in the time when cultures are dying and most of the festivals are celebrated just for the formalities, Chhath Puja is one of the cultures which are kept on rising.
Being children, we were very curious to know about, why Mom is keeping fast for so long? Why she cooks using the woods, even though we have LPG facilities?
Well, confusion started to set aside by the time as parents helped us to know the importance of all the rituals, performed in this festival. Media understood the nerves of the audiences, who celebrate this festival, and the government realized the value so, there is a holiday on Chhath Puja in many states. Be it any reason, targeting audiences or vote bank, but the way Chhath Puja has become so important that no one can ignore it.
Communal harmony is another reason which is indispensable to this puja and a reason for its popularity. Chhath Puja is not only celebrated by the Hindus, but Muslims take part equally with the same feeling of devotion and dedication, either they help the Hindus with their contribution in making Chhath Ghats.
Crossing borders of states
People do not migrate alone but, with their culture. The same goes for Chhath Puja. At one point of time, the festival was limited to fewer states and now, it is celebrated almost across India.
Now, people consider it divine to be a part of this great and pious festival. So, they contribute by decorating Chhath Ghats or by donating money to Chhath Puja Samitis.
Festivals are meant for unity and Chhath Puja does it in all the ways.
Happy Chhath Puja!
– Khushboo Kumari (She is a 3rd year journalism student at University of Delhi.)