Chhath Puja is a Vedic festival celebrated to thank God Surya for upholding the life on earth. It is considered as the Hindu festival of Indian and Nepalese community. Sun is the god of life force and the God of energy, and therefore, worshipped for promoting well being, progress and prosperity.
The festival is generally celebrated after Diwali and continues for four consecutive days. The rituals followed by the people are quite rigorous including holy bath, standing in water for long duration, fasting, offering Prasad and Arghya to the rising as well as the setting sun.
Chhath Puja is widely celebrated in the regions of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand in India. In Nepal, the celebrations are observed in the Mithila and Terai regions. Apart from these, some of the areas where huge volume of population offer puja are Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Fiji, Mauritius, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.
According to the Nepali calendar, the puja is being performed on the sixth day of month Kartika, known by the name of Kartika Shukla Shashthi. As per Gregorian English calendar, the festival falls in the month of October or November. The respective festival is also celebrated few days after Holi, in the month of March or April.
In summers, it is celebrated on the day of Chaitra Shashthi and is often known as Chaiti Chhath. This celebration is done few days after Holi. Apart from Sun, people following the rituals of Chhath Puja use to worship Chhathi Maiya on this occasion. Chhathi Maiya is known to be the younger sister of God Surya.
In Vedas, the Goddess is also known as Usha. Purity is the main concept of this puja. People who follow the rituals of puja use to sleep on the floor. Both rising sun and setting sun have their own significance in this festival. Devotees use to take a dip in the holy water on the first day of the festival. The holy water is also taken to home for preparing sweets and other traditional cuisines.
The Worshippers use to observe fast on the second day and have Kheer and Puri in the evening after sunset. Friends and relatives usually accompany the Vratins to the riverbank where puja is being performed and Sandhya Arghya or Pehla Arghya is offered to the sun on the eve of the festival. The very next morning Usha Arghya or the Dusra Arghya is being offered in the same way.