Chhath : the festival of worshipping the Sun and cleaning reservoirs

National News

Chhath :
the festival of worshipping the Sun and cleaning reservoirs

Why
Celebrate Chhath

Chhath is a
great folk festival of nature-worshipping mainly celebrated in
Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. However, the philosophy behind
celebrating this festival is worldwide. Perhaps this is the reason why the
migrants of such areas having faith in this tradition celebrate it not only
other parts of the country but all over the world.

Chhath is
the pious festival of protection of the environment, prevention of diseases and
maintaining discipline, a mention of which is found in the epic Rig-Veda, a
great Indian scripture for mankind.

On the
occasion of Deepawali, the festival of lights, people clean their houses more
particularly. In extension, they on Chhath, clean their surroundings and the
banks of reservoirs like a river, pond, lake, etc with great piety.

The
tradition of cleaning the reservoirs has been in practice since ancient times
in those areas. From the very next day of Deepawali, people get involved in
this virtuous work.

In cyclical
nature, what comes after the rainy season is the good of autumn which, however,
inherits a plethora of wastes and weeds breeding flies, insects and reptiles.
All these somehow pose a threat to human inhabitation. The festivals like
Deepawali and Chhath are so designed as to steer clear of all of them and make
our habitation disease-free and worth living.

Thus,
Chhath is the festival of worshipping the Sun and cleaning reservoirs.

Currently,
the schemes like ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and ‘Namami Gange’ are among the
favourite projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For the last few years, the
Modi government has been campaigning vigorously on the sanitation drive and the
cleanliness of the Ganges. Both these programs have a theoretical and practical
connection with the festival of public faith.

The people
of those areas well understand the intents and purposes of the project of
cleaning the water-body during the festivals, which is in line with the Modi
Government Cleanliness drive. On the practical side, what the Prime Minister
has envisaged Clean India is not possible without public participation.

People’s
participation in such a government campaign merely with the policy is not as
easy as faith and reverence do, especially in a country where religion is a way
of life.

Sun is
worshipped in Chhath in which hard fasts and rules are followed. In other
words, it is a festival of nature-worshipping as well as discipline in physical
and mental exercise and ethos.

The festival
which is celebrated for two consecutive days falls on the sixth day of Kartik,
a Hindi Calendar month, accordingly in English- October- November. Those who
fast for such two days on the trot follow the special rules of purification
from the Chaturthi (4th day) date itself. The worshipping at Panchami and
Shashthi is performed in the evening and at the crack of dawn at Saptami when
it concludes.

While worshipping, devotees stand in the water-body up to the waist for a pretty long time which is called ‘Katisnan’ in hydro-medicinal therapy.

Many diseases such as leprosy are prevented and cured with such therapy.

It is an
open secret that flora and fauna get energy from the sun itself. Vitamin D is
obtained from sun-rays only. People of western countries are found to be
deficient in vitamin-D because there is hardly sunrise for a month in a year.
The maximum temperature goes up to 30 Degree Celsius over there.

The
latitudinal position of India is as such that there is plenty of sunlight in
every part of the country. The sun is curative and restorative. The houses where
its rays reach directly have no habitat of insects are generally disease-free.
This is the reason why people like to build east facing houses, according to
Vastu Shashtra.

The festival
of Chhath is celebrated before the beginning of winter. The importance of
sunlight grows more in winter. Therefore, by worshipping the sun, people pray
to God to protect them from the severity of cold in winter.

Nature
worshipping is the culture of Hinduism. Through such a tradition of worshipping
river, pond, wall, tree, etc, people express their gratitude to nature for
anything and everything they are obliged to. In the Rig Veda, the sun, the
river and the earth are placed in the category of deities.

Hinduism is
a philosophy in itself, which teaches us the way of life and living. Chhath is
a great religious festival of faith and learning lifestyles, in which
cleanliness, purification and purity have special significance. Therefore, this
author believes that this Mahaparva of public faith should be declared a
national festival of cleanliness.

Also, this
festival of energy preservation, water conservation, disease prevention and
discipline-abiding should be celebrated all over India. This will increase
people’s interest in public welfare and will help in realizing the vision of
Swachh Bharat.

The
declaration of Chhath as a national festival will create awareness among the
people about the cleanliness of the reservoirs spread in every corner of the
country and this will also accelerate the water conservation campaign.
Recognizing the importance of this festivity, the Delhi government has made
special arrangements for Chhath Puja in its budget.

Hundreds of
Ghats and places of worship have been arranged for the celebration by the
Government of Delhi. However, its political significance is also extracted,
because there are about 50 seats out of 70 seats in Delhi Assembly, where no
political party can attain Delhi’s power by ignoring the precincts.

Even if it
is a matter of respecting the feelings of the Purvanchalis, the kind of faith
that is being seen among the residents of the National Capital Region regarding
the event is a sign of awareness of environmental protection.

Purvanchali
migrants celebrate the occasion with great devotion in various metros including
Mumbai, Surat, and Ahmadabad in the country. Moreover, the Purvanchali Indian
Diaspora celebrates Chhath in overseas countries like Mauritius, Fiji and
America.

In recent times, under the ‘Right to Breathe‘, several steps have been taken by the Supreme Court to reduce pollution levels in Delhi. As such, manufacturing units have been taken out of Delhi. There is a ban on setting brick and kiln in the NCT of Delhi. Selling and setting off firecrackers here is banned on such occasions.

All these
preventive things are happening. However, on part of the central and state
governments and with the help of devotees linking festivals like Chhath with
environmental protection would be a positive initiative to ensure the
contribution in the development.

Like every
year, preparations are afoot to celebrate the festival in Delhi-NCR this time
too. The placards of the wishes of the leaders of political parties have been hung
on the streets. Vote bank politics is the sole motive behind his interest. But
if the importance of Chhath is seen keeping in mind the environmental issue,
the motive will be broad.

Collectivism
is a part of human civilization. Hence, the institutionalization of celebrating
festivals and occasions always give impetus to living a good life and ensuring
a standard of living for the posterity.

Chhath is,
of course, a good occasion to understand this fact in our life. It reminds us
of the value of energy and power. It also speaks of our cultural values which
need to be protected and boasted of. Keeping a tradition in continuity with
understanding its values gives mankind a dignified life to live. All religions
including Hinduism propagate encouraging humanity and living a collective life.

Celebration of Chhath puja with devotion purifies our body and mind.

It also maintains a standard of how we stick to the rotational system of worshipping god and goddess in obeisance throughout the year in the festive land of the beautiful country India.

(Writer Dr Birbal Jha is a noted author and Managing Director of Lingua Multiservices Pvt Ltd having a popular trademark brand ‘British Lingua’. He is credited as having created a revolution in English training with the slogan ‘English for all’ in India. He has also been accorded the status of the ‘Youngest Living legend of Mithila’.)

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