Chhath, also known as Dala Chhath is an important festival celebrated in Bihar and many other parts of India in which setting Sun (dawn) is worshiped . Although Bihar celebrates Chhath most elaborately it is also followed in some parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam, Mauritius, mainly among the Bhojpuri and Maithali speaking people.
Chhath is also important for Nepalese worshippers of god as well as in eastern Uttar Pradesh.The best place to witness Chhath would be around Northern Bihar where it is celebrated in great grandeur. The festival is observed and in Bihar since time immemorial with the constant faith that the Sun God fulfils wishes if ‘araghya’ is offered with complete dedication and devotion.
Chhath is not just a physical attachment to the people of Bihar, it is also present in their hearts, and this is why the people bring wherever they have migrated. Nowadays it can be easily seen at the ghats of Yamuna in Delhi and other parts of India indicating its presence across the country.
It is a festival connected with purity, devotion to the Sun God who is considered as the source of life on this earth and is regarded as wish fulfiller. The festival is with an aim to express thanks to Sun God for offering energy to earth continuously enabling the environment suitable for the people to live.In the evening arghya people express their thanks to Sun God for its work in growing their crops during the preceding year and morning arghya is considered as a request for a bountiful crop, peace and prosperity in the year to come.
Devotees assemble at the ghats at rivers and ponds including Ganges and take a holy dip before preparing offerings (Prasad). The main constituent of the offerings are Thekua, which is a wheat based cake. Offerings are preferably cooked on earthen Chulha (oven). Some traditions are exercised with little difference varying from region to region and across the families with basic similarity.During the , offerings are contained in small, semicircular pans woven out of bamboo strips called soop. Chhath is a Hindu festival but many muslim families also participates in this holy festival.
Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat) The first day of the puja is known as Nahai Khai (Bath & Eat), the Vrati (devotees) take a bath preferably in sacred river Ganga and bring the holy water to cook offerings (Prasad) at home.
A whole day fast (without water) is observed by the vratis (devotees). The vratis end their fast in the evening after performing puja. Offerings (Prasad) are comprises of Rasiao-kheer (rice delicacy), puris (deep-fried puffs of wheat flour) or chapatti and bananas – are distributed among family, friends and visitors.
Devotees observe fast without consuming water. The whole day is spent in preparing puja offerings. All the offerings are kept in tray made up of bamboo. Offerings comprises of Thekua, coconut, banana and other seasonal fruits.