Affter Karthik Chhath Puja, the second great festival of Bihar is Chaiti Chhath Puja
Dala Chhath – it is an ancient and major festival. It is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers (May-July), called the Chaiti Chhath, and once in the winters (September-November)around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an arduous observance, requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to undertake in the Indian winters.
Chhat is dedicated to the worship of the Sun God and therefore, is also known as Surya Shashti. Chhat is celebrated as thanks to the Sun for providing the necessities of life on earth, and also for fulfilling particular wishes.
10 things you need to know about Chhath Puja
1) The festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the Hindu God of Sun.
2) Chhath involves devotees praying at the riverbank during sunrise and sunset. Scientifically, the solar energy has lowest level of ultraviolet radiations during this time, which makes it beneficial for the body.
3) The devotee who observes fast during chhath is called vrati. They observe fast for four days.
4) The first day – nahai khai – starts by taking a dip in holy Ganges or by sprinkling ganga-jal (holy water) and worshiping the sun God after which kaddu-bhaat (pumpkin curry and rice) along with channa dal is prepared and eaten.
5) On the first day, devotees abstain from eating apart from the morning meal until the next day’s evening (kharna) where they eat kheer, chappatis and fruits. The second day is known as Lohand.
6) The third day is called pehla argha/saandhya argha. Those on a fast, completely abstain from eating anything on this day. The sinking sun is worshipped and given offerings (argha) in the evening.
7) The final day – doosra argha/suryoday argha – sees devotees giving argha and worshiping the sun early in the morning post which devotees break their fast (paran) by consuming the chhath Prasad including kheer, sweets, thekua and fruits.
8) Rice, wheat, fresh fruits, dry fruits, coconut, nuts, jaggery and dollops of ghee go into the making of traditional chhath meals as well as chhath Prasad.
9) Meals during chhath – especially the chhath Prasad – are prepared strictly without onion, garlic and salt. Some devotees may use rock salt.
10) The festival also marks the celebration of the new harvest. The offerings given to Suryadevta include fruits and food preparation made with this fresh harvest.
The folk songs sung on the eve of Chhath mirror the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Nowadays, modern Chhath songs, largely Bollywood filmy remixes have caught on, but the old tradition still goes strong with a great degree of sanctity. The three main linguistic regions of Bihar: the Maithili, the Magadhi, and the Bhojpuri, and all the various dialects associated with these, have different folk songs; but all dedicated to Chhath, they have an underlying unity. The minor nuances of the Chhath rituals, such as in the Kharna ritual, vary from region to region, and also across families, but still there is a fundamental similarity.