PRATIHAR SHASHTHI (CHHATH)
Kharna: A day prior to Chhath
|Chhathi or Chhath is very
popular with Biharis and thus with Maithils. People try to be with their
families and due to heavy rush in trains, special trains have to be run.
Now a days it is seen being celebrated at far off places.
Chhath is celebrated on the day Kartik Shukla Shasthi occurs at sunrise time. Saptami(7) yukta Shasthi(6) is permitted i.e., on that day Shasthi must be present at sunrise time and Saptami may occur thereafter. Panchmi ar sunrise time and Shasthi in evening is prohibited. Kharna will be observed a day earlier and Parna on the next day of Chhath without any other consideration.
This festival is very rigourous and difficult in the sense that extreme purity has to be maintained in every thing related to this sun worship, additionally the person performing Chhathi has to fast (without even water) for three days, taking meals once on first two and not even that on third.
Just after Diwali the preparations start. Earthen Chulas are prepared. Wood collected. Wheat is cleaned, washed and ground in home grinders (Janta). New Gur (jaggery) and cooking oils are purchased.
Two days prior to Chhath the person (male or female) observs ekbhukta commonly known as Naha-Kha or Arba-arbain. He take only one meal and that too of things considered very pure. On Panchami day he( she) fasts for the whole day. In the evening he (she) prepares Gur-Khir (a rice-jaggery preparation), offers this and bananas to the sun god. He takes only this prasad as meal. Rest of the prasad is distributed.
On Chhath day Sandhya (evening) arghya is offered to the setting sun. People gather by the banks of rivers or ponds. The worshipper enters water and offers arghya with different articles (Prepared cookies, Bananas, Coconut, Sugarcane, Radish, Brinjals, Green whole turmeric, Ankuri etc). They come out and return home. Some even spend the night at the bank itself. Sing songs and music may be played. They continue their fast for the night also.
Very early next morning they again enter water. Repeat the performance of the evening to the rising sun. The same articles used in the evening are again offered, a peculiarity of this festival. The celebration concludes with distribution of prasad.