Chhath Puja is performed on the sixth day in the month of Kartika, which typically falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar. Also known as Surya Shashti, Chhathi and Dala Chhath, Chhath Puja is a four-day festival dedicated to Lord Surya and is mainly observed by women for the well-being of their sons and the happiness of their family. During Chhath Puja, devotees take a holy bath, observe fast and pray to the Sun God and offer fruits and flowers. The four-day festival is celebrated six-days after Diwali. It is also believed that during the festival sunrise and sunset symbolises the cycle of birth and death. Each day of the festival has different rituals to follow. In 2018, Chhath Puja begins on November 11 and concludes on November 14.
Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival dedicated to the Sun God Surya and his wife Usha in order to promote well-being, prosperity, and progress. Chhathi Maiyya is worshipped during Chhath Puja. Known as Usha in the Vedas, she is believed to be the consort of the Sun God Surya.
The first day of the festival is known as Nahay Khay when women observe fast and have their meal only once. The second day is known as Kharna, nirjala fast (fast without food and water) is observed from sunrise and sunset. The fast is only broken after kheer-roti is offered to the Sun God. The third day is Chhath, the main festival day. Devotees observe nirjala vrat, visit river bank, offer argha (offering of sweets, fruits, and flowers) and offer Surya Namaskar to the setting Sun. The fast continues throughout the night and is broken on the fourth and final day of the festival. It is broken after offering argha and Surya Namaskar to the rising sun.
Chhath Puja is also celebrated on Chaitra Shashthi which is known as Chaiti Chhath. It falls in the month of March or April, days after Holi.
Chhath Puja has also found a reference in the Sanskrit epic poem Mahabharata. According to the poem, Pandavas, rulers of Hastinapur and Draupadi performed Chhath Puja on the advice of sage Dhaumya. After the ritual, Pandavas were able to regain their lost kingdom and Draupadi to solve all her problems.
According to another legend, after returning to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and during the coronation, Lord Rama and Sita observed fast and offered prayers to the Sun God in the Hindu month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha. Since then Chhath Puja became a traditional festival.
Sunrise on Chhath Puja Day: 6:44 am
Sunset on Chhath Puja Day: 6 pm
Shashthi tithi begins: 1:50 am on November 13, 2018
Shashthi tithi ends: 4:22 am on November 14, 2018