After five days of Diwali, the festival of lights, now devotees celebrare 3 day Chhath Puja from today evening.
As the Sun sets Devotees will begin the nerve-testing fast that starts without water on Saturday evening to end on Monday morning after 36 hours.
Sunday and Monday are the main days of celebration.
Chhath Puja is observed mainly by people from Bihar, Jharkhand and some parts of Uttar Pradesh for four days.
The first two days are about austerity and prayers while the next two involve fasting. The prayers said on the first two days are restricted to the homes of people where they observe abstinence and pray. At the end of the second day, after praying to Sun God, people partake kheer (sweet dish) and then begin the fast.
Notably, on the third and fourth days, people offer prayers to Sun God in public places or from their homes. These prayers are offered while being in water. On the third day, prayers are offered at sunset and on the fourth day at sunrise. People mainly go to natural water bodies to immerse themselves while offering prayers such as uhu Chowpatty, Girgaon Chowpatty, Aksa, Gorai, Powai, Sion and Mulund.
Amid these four days, devotees offer prayers to the Sun God. On the third and the fourth day, aragh (offering) is made to the Sun God (the setting Sun on the third day and the rising Sun on the fourth). After that, the prayers and fasting conclude. Most people will start fasting on Saturday evening after prayers.
For the unversed, Aragh is a bamboo winnowing basket in which several essentials are kept that differ on Saturday and Sunday. For the Saturday evening prayer, the aragh has coconut, pomegranate, ginger, radish and custard apple. On Sunday, the aragh has thekua (made of flour), ghee (clarified butter), jaggery and Bengal gram.
During this period, devotees also pray to Shashti Devi, along with the Sun God. Shasti Devi is the daughter of Lord Bramha – the creator of the universe.
She gives the boon of having children.
According to Manoj Singh Rajput, spokesperson of the Bihar Foundation, Legend has it that when Raja Satyavrat did not have any children, he prayed to the Sun God. The Sun God then asked him to pray to Shashti Devi. The fast is also known as Surya Shashti Vrat.