Chhath Puja, originated from Bihar, is being observed in some parts of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Mauritius, and Nepal – mainly among the Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking people. Nepalese worshippers of the Sun god celebrate Chhath as a mean of being grateful to the Sun for giving the bounties of life on earth and for the fulfillment of wishes of its believers. Chhath is mostly celebrated in Nepal’s Eastern Terai and is one of the most popular festival in the region.
Chhath puja is more of a festival of prayer, truth, non-violence, forgiveness and compassion. Chhath puja falls on the sixth day of the lunar month after Tihar every year. The festival is usually a 4 day long celebration accompanied by rituals or “Suryashashthi’. Chhath puja rituals usually consist of fasting, singing folklores, and hymns.
Hindu usually worship the rising sun. Chhath is the only time the setting sun is worshipped as a symbol of the truth that cycle of birth starts with death. The devotee women, going knee-deep in water, covering their bodies with a piece of sanctified cloth, pray to Chatti mai, the setting Sun. They offer argha (water and Prasad) to the Sun and a basket full of pooja materials are touched in river and shown to the Sun during the rituals.
After sunset, the devotees return home to celebrate by singing hymns while devotees maintaining a strict fast without water for 3 days. On the morning of the third day, the women again go knee-deep to pray the rising sun. After that prasad is distributed and the women break their fast with the prasad offered to the sun.
Chhath festival is exclusively observed by women and males usually offer helping hand.