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Chhath Puja or Surya Shashti is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun God for sustaining life on earth. The Sun, considered as the god of energy and life-force is worshipped during Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. It is believed that Sun worship can cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders. This year Chhath Puja is falling on November 6, 2016.
Surya Shashti or Chhath Puja Rituals
• On this day wake up early and take bath in a lake, pond or river near your house.
• After the bath worship the sun during the sunrise while standing at the bank of the water body.
• Light a lamp with pure ghee and offer dhoop and red flowers to sun.
• Offer water containing seven type of flowers, rice, sandalwood, sesame, etc. to the rising sun.
• Bow head and offer prayers to the lord while chanting “Om Grihni Suryaya Namah” or “Om Suryaya Namah” 108 times.
• You could continue chanting the names of lord Surya the entire day.
• Feed brahmins and poor people as per your affordability.
• You could also donate clothes, food, grains etc to the priest and/or to the poor people.
Note: For people living in the city away from the lakes, ponds or rivers, you could take bath at home before the sunrise and perform the puja while the sun is rising. Make sure that you can see the sun while performing pooja.
Legend Behind Chhath Puja or Surya Sashti
It is believed that the Chhath puja was first started by the Surya Putra Karna. He was a great warrior and had ruled over the Anga Desh during the Mahabharata period. Chhath Puja was also celebrated by Draupadi and Pandavas of Hastinapur for regaining their lost kingdom.
It is believed that Lord Rama and Sita had kept fast and offered puja to the Lord Sun in the month of Kartik in Shukla Paksha during their coronation after returning to the Ayodhya from 14 years of exile.
Worship of Chhathi Maiya (consort of the Lord Surya) is also held at Chhath puja. Chhathi Maiya is also known as Usha (the first light of the day or Dawn). People pray to Chhathi Maiya to overcome their troubles as well as to get the Moksha.