Chhath Puja is one of the most beautiful festivals in India. The festival is celebrated by the community from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh while certain villages of Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and even Nepal celebrates it.
What is Chhath Puja
Chhath is the most revered festival in East India. The earlier form of the festival was to offer gratitude to Sun god for being so generous and offering a great yield of crops. Chhath forms on a time gap during which the Kharif crops are harvested and preparations for Rabi crops begins.
With time, the meaning of Chhath changed a little but the original intention remained the same. The festival goes on for four days. The ones who are fasting for festival have to spend two days without any food and water and it only breaks on the day of morning arghya.
Chhath Puja in Varanasi
Varanasi is one of the prime holy cities of Eastern India. Offering Chhath prayers in Ganga is considered as the highest forms of devotion and this is why the devotees visit the ghats of Varanasi from nearby villages.
Like any other location where Chhath is celebrated, Varanasi too sees the arrival of devotees from the day of evening arghya. They start walking with dauras (a basket made from bamboo) filled with fruits, thekua, padukiya and other sweets. Sugarcane is used to mark the spot where the certain family will offer the prayers and some members of the family are already present there so that no one else enters and occupies it.
The road that leads to Assi Ghat has a number of groups carrying different sizes of Dauras to the ghats. The one who is fasting walks with them and at times they lie down, touch the ground and then start moving.
Since Chhath is such an important festival, the roads are cleaned and the volunteers make sure that the route is clear from any foreign particles.
Day 1 of Chhath Puja
Day 1 of Chhath Puja is when the devotees pay respect to the setting sun. The idea is that the setting sun is the symbol of year ending and with that everything good, bad and unfortunate would end too. This ritual is known as Argh and all the offerings are made facing east.
Day 2 of Chhath Puja
One second day, the devotees walk on the same path again to reach the ghat. On this day, they offer their prayers to the rising sun that marks the beginning of a new harvest season. The morning argh is offered by the devotees facing East and they start arriving at the ghats at 4 in the morning.
Best places to see Chhath Puja
All the ghats of Varanasi are used for Chhath Puja but it will be the best idea to stay around Assi Ghat because it will give you a less crowded access to the ghats. From Assi Ghat you can walk around the nearby ghats and enjoy different phases of the festival.
Other than Varanasi, you can also visit Patna, Yamuna Ghat in New Delhi, Bhagalpur and if you want to see a different version of the festival then Nepal would be perfect.
Chhath Puja is a beautiful festival but you need to understand that as a traveller/photographer, you need to keep certain boundaries and not defile the offerings.
When it Chhath Puja celebrated
Chhath Puja’s dates change every year but it falls after Diwali. Dates for future Chhath Puja are –
Chhath Puja 2020 – Friday, November 20
Chhath Puja 2021 – Wednesday, November 10
Chhath Puja 2022 – Sunday, October 30
Chhath Puja 2023 – Sunday, November 19
Chhath Puja 2024 – Thursday, November 7
Chhath Puja 2025 – Monday, October 27
Chhath Puja 2026 – Sunday, November 15
Hope this Chhath Puja guide helps you plan an Indian festival experience in a better way. For more information, connect on Instagram