Chhath Parba - छठ पर्व
महेन्द्रोधनद: कालो यम: सोमो ह्यपाम्पति: ।।
एनमापत्सु क्रिच्छेषु कन्तारेषु भयेषु च ।
किर्तयन पुरुष्: कष्चिन्नवसिदती राघव ।।।
आदित्य्म सर्बकर्तंरं कलाद्वदाद्शम्युतमं ।
पद्महस्त्द्वयं वन्दे सर्वलोकैकभस्करमं ।।
Chhath parva is celebrated by natives of Mithila region of Nepal and India. This festival is dedicated to god Sun. Sun is called Surya in Sanscrit, Chhat parba is thanks giving to lord Surya for sustaining life on earth and to worship him to provide his continuous blessings to mankind.
The Sun, source power of nature, considered the god of energy and lord of the life-force, is worshiped in Chhath to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. Hindu people believe sun helps to cure many illness and diseases. Sun is considered as source of healing too. Sun is also considered as token of stability and prosperity. Therefore, people worship sun to ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends and beloved ones.
Chhath parba is observed for 4 days from Kartik Shukala chaturthi to Kartik Shukala Saptami. This festival falls in October or November in the English Calendar.
Chhath is also celebrated in on Chaitra Shashti, the early summer about March or April, and is called Chaiti Chhath. The Kartik Sukla Shasti Chhat is more popular.
Chhat festival is celebrated for four days. The ritual of Chhat Parba includes taking holy bath, fasting, standing and worshiping sun for a long time and offering Prasad and Argha to ‘Rising and setting Lord Surya”. Some worshipers observe fasting even without water for 36 hours continuously.
Naha Kha means bath and eat. This is the first day of Chhath Puja. People take a dip, preferably in the holy river near to their residence and bring home Holy water of the river to prepare the offerings. The house and surroundings are fully cleaned. The devotees eat only one meal on this day.
This is a day before Chhat on Panchami day. This day people observe fasting ending in the evening after the sunset. Just after the worship of earth, the offerings of Kheer (rice pudding), Bananas and Puris are distributed. There is a tradition to observe fasting for next 36 hours even without water.
Day 3: Chhath
This is the 3rd day. It is on Kartik Shukala Shashti.This day Sanjhiya Arghya (evening offerings) is done. Whole day people prepare prasad at their home. In the evening whole family accompanies the devotee to a riverbank, lake or a common large water body to make the offerings (Aragh) to the setting sun. In Kathmandu, Rani Pokhari is opened for Argha that day. In Janakpur, Argha is offered in Ganga Sagar.
The devotees offer prayers to the setting sun. This is very important part of Chat Puja. In the evening people gather together and perform cultural programs with music and dances. The folk songs sung on the evening of Chhath reflect the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Mithila Pradesh and its vicinity. People sing songs in Maithili, Magadhi, and the Bhojpuri, the three main languages spoken in Terai and Madhesh region of Nepal. There are minor distinctions in celebration and pooja performance among the regions and across families, but basically all celebrate the same festival with same enthusiasm and charm.
Kosi: The third day night, Kosi is held after the sun set. The lights are lit late in the evening after making offering (Argha) to sun. The lamps are kept under a canopy of five sugarcane ticks. The five sticks signify the human body made of Pancha tatwa described by Ayurveda. (Earth, water, fire, air and ether or sky). This is a symbolic ritual in Chhath Puja, performed especially in those families where marriage or childbirth has taken place recently. The lighted lamps signify the solar energy sustaining the human being.
Day 4: Paran
Bihaniya Aragh is fourth and final day of Chhatt Pooja. Bihaniya Argha means Morning Offering. On Saptami, the final day of Chhath Puja, the devotees, along with their family and friends, go to the riverbank again before sunrise. They make the offerings (Aragh) to the rising sun. The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the devotee of chhatt parba. Prasad is distributed and gatherings of family and friends ends the celebration.
Story behind Chhath Pooja
Draupadi and Chhath
Chhath pooja can be traced back to period of Mahabharat. Mahabharat has the reference of Chhat pooja. Draupadi, wife of the 5 Pandavas, has a great power to cure any type of disease including leprosy. The main reason of her power is her worship and devotion to Lord Sun (Surya Devata). Hindu believe sun has unlimited power to cure several diseases. The holy and divine energy of Surya made Draupati most powerful woman in the world to cure many diseases. As a commemoration of Draupadi and Lord Surya, Chhath Parva is celebrated worshiping Surya Devata.
Chhat Pooja and Karna
Chhat Pooja or Surya Sashti vrat is observed by Warrior Karna, the son of Surya, who was renowned warrior and well-known for his nature of charity. Since Karna became a popular and powerful by observing Surya Puja, Hindus also worship Surya devata for courage, fame, health, wealth and prosperity
The Yogic Philosophy of Chhath
According to yogic philosophy, the physical bodies of all the living organisms are highly sophisticated energy conducting channels. The solar bio-electricity starts flowing in the human body when it is exposed to solar radiations of specific wavelengths. Under particular physical and mental conditions, the absorption and conduction of this solar-bio-electricity increases.
The processes and the rituals of the Chhath puja aim at preparing the body and the mind of the Vratti (devotee) for the process of cosmic solar energy infusion.
The scientific process similar to Chhath was used by the Rishis of yore for carrying out their austerities without any intake of solid or liquid diet. Using a process similar to the Chhath puja, they were able to absorb the energy needed for sustenance directly from the sun, instead of taking it indirectly through food and water.
The retina is a kind of photoelectric material, which emits subtle energy when exposed to light. Hence, very subtle electric energy starts flowing from the retina. This energy (photo-bio-electricity) is transmitted from the retina to the pineal gland by the optic nerves connecting the retina to the pineal gland, leading to its activation.
The pineal gland is in close proximity with the pituitary and hypothalamus glands (together, three glands are called Triveni) due to which, the energy generated in this process starts impacting these glands. Consequently, the pranic activity becomes uniform, giving the Vratti good health and a calm mind.
Stages of Chhath (Conscious Photoenergization Process)
According to Yoga philosophy, the process of Chhath is divided into six stages of the Conscious Cosmic Solar Energy Infusion Technique (Conscious Photoenergization Process).
Stage 1: Fasting and the discipline of cleanliness leads to detoxification of the body and mind. This stage prepares the body and mind of the Vratti (devotee) to receive the cosmic solar energy.
Stage 2: Standing in a water body with half the body (navel deep) in the water minimizes the leak of energy and helps the prana (psychic energy) to move up the sushumna (psychic channel in the spine).
Stage 3: Cosmic Solar Energy enters the Vratti’s pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands (Triveni complex) through the retina and optic nerves.
Stage 4: Activation of Triveni tri-glandular complex (pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus).
Stage 5: A kind of polarization of happens in the spine, which results in the Vratti’s gross and subtle bodies getting transformed into a cosmic powerhouse. This can also lead to the awakening of the latent psychic energy popularly known as the Kundalini Shakti.
Stage 6: The body of the Vratti (devotee) becomes a channel which conducts, recycles and transmits the energy into the entire universe.
Benefits of Chhath process
The Chhath process results in detoxification
The Chhath process stresses mental discipline. The discipline of mental purity is a result of this work. By employing a number of rituals, the vrattis focus on maintaining the cleanliness of the offerings and environment. Cleanliness is the most dominant thought that prevails in the minds of the devotees during Chhath.
This has a great detoxification effect on the body and the mind as mental moods can result in biochemical changes. Now comes the physical detoxification. The fasting paves the way for detoxification at a material level.
Detoxification helps in regularizing the flow of prana and makes the person more energetic. The natural immune system of the body spends much of its energy in fighting the toxins present in the body. By using the detoxification methods such as pranayam, meditation, yoga and Chhath practices, the amount of toxins present in the body can be reduced to a great extent. Thus, with reduction in the amount of toxins, the expenditure of energy also reduces and you feel more energetic. It improves the appearance of the skin. The eyesight can improve and the ageing process of the body slows down.
Benefits of Chhath Puja
Photo-electro-chemical effect: physical benefits
The Chhath practice improves the immunity of the Vratti’s body.
Antiseptic effect: Safe radiation of sunlight can help cure fungal and bacterial infections of the skin.
Raktavardhak (increase in fighting power of blood): As a consequence of the practice of Chhath, the energy infused in the blood stream improves the performance of white blood cells.
The solar energy has a great influence on the glands, which results in balanced secretion of hormones.
Energy requirements are met by the solar energy directly. This will further detoxify the body.
Photo-electro-psychic effects: mental benefits
A state of creative calmness will prevails in the mind.
To a great extent, all negative responses have their origin in the disturbed flow of prana. With the pranic flow regularized, the duration and frequency of occurrences of anger, jealousy, and other negative emotions will be reduced.
With patient and sincere practice, the psychic powers like intuition, healing, and telepathy awaken. This depends on the concentration with which the practice is undertaken.
Daily sun meditation (Chhath process)
In the fast lifestyle of the present times, it may not be possible to follow the Chhath process very often. The detoxification can be undertaken through pranayam, yoga, meditation and Conscious Photoenergization Process known as Chhath Dhyan Sadhana (CDS).
Chhath Dhyan Sadhana (CDS): Conscious Photoenergization Process
Assume a comfortable position (standing or sitting) with back and spine straight. With eyes closed, face the Sun. Inhale completely, as slowly as possible. Do not strain in making the breathing slow. Maintain your comfort level. As you breath in, visualize (feelingly experience) the cosmic solar energy entering through your eyes and moving to the pineal gland through optic nerves and charging the pineal–pituitary–hypothalamus complex. Now, as you exhale, visualize the cosmic solar energy flowing down the pineal gland and spreading throughout your body with a revitalizing effect.
Thus, the process starts with inhalation and ends in exhalation. This constitutes one round. It is suggested to start with five rounds (two minutes), and increase if time permits. On completion of the practice, thank the Sun for bestowing upon you the life giving solar energy. Thereafter, sit quietly for a minute, observing the good things in the environment around.
CDS should be practiced within one-hour window after sunrise or within one-hour window before sunset. Any person of any age can practice CDS. If you wish to practice CDS at any time other than sunrise or sunset, do not practice it in front of Sun. You can however, practice CDS in a room. Even a bed-ridden person can try and consciously draw in the solar energy while lying on the bed. With regular practice, he/she will notice an improvement in physical and mental health. For those who are not comfortable facing the sun, they can practice the technique in any room having proper ventilation. If you have time, you can also practice twice a day. Do not hurry in increasing the number of rounds, as there is no shortcut to success in this method. The nervous system of the body takes its own time in adapting and to be able to receive the energy.
Significance of emphasis on sunrise and Sunset periods
Only sunrise and sunset are the periods during which the majority of humans can safely obtain the solar energy directly from the Sun. However, there may be some exceptions. That is why, in Chhath puja, there is a tradition of offering Arghya to the Sun in late evening and in early morning. During these phases (one hour window after sunrise and before sunset), the ultraviolet radiation levels remain in safe limits.
Pictures collected from various sources.