Dedicated to Lord Surya, Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival wherein the devotees seek prosperity. Also known by names such as Dala Chhath, Pratihar, Surya Shashthi and Chhathi, the festival is primarily celebrated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
The four-day long festival involves stringent rituals involving bathing, praying and abstaining from food and water during the fast. Chhathi Maiyya, who is believed to be the consort of Lord Sun, is worshiped during the festival. This year, the first day, also known as Nahay Khay of the four-day long festival falls on October 24 with Chhath Puja to be carried out on October 26.
There are many beliefs associated with Chhath Puja including the rules to be followed for the celebration of the festival and prayers, including the mistakes, to be avoided. It is believed that those who do not commit these mistakes and follow the rituals properly get the blessings of Chhathi Maiyya.
Hence, the devotees must take care of the following things to impress the Goddess and get the desired fruits from their prayers.
1. Keeping non-vegetarian food at home or consuming it anywhere is strictly prohibited during the fast. One must also abstain from smoking during this time.
2. Take care that the offerings (prasad) for Chhathi Maiyya are prepared with complete sanctity. The prasad should never be touched or cooked with dirty hands.
3. One must not eat at a place where offerings to the deity are cooked. Also, one must also not eat while cooking these offerings and not touch salt or anything salty.
4. Any promises made to Chhathi Maiyya must be completed, otherwise the deity might get upset.
5. Water must be offered to Lord Sun before consuming food or water.
6. One must make sure to wear clean and tidy clothes during prayers.
7. Devotees must also take special care of the utensils used to offer water to Lord Sun. It must not be made up of silver, stainless steel, glass or plastic.
8. Keeping onion and garlic at home is not allowed.