Chhath Puja, a prominent Hindu festival mostly celebrated in Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh lasts for a span of four days. The rituals start on the sixth day of Hindu calendar month, Kartika. The festival is celebrated in between the months of October and November.
Chhath Parva, also called Chhath Puja, Chhath, Chhathi, Dala Chhath, Surya Shasthi is a festival dedicated to the Sun God (Surya Bhagwan), which people believe sustains life on the earth. Chhath literally means “six” and the festival gets started just after the Govardhan Puja, completing on the seventh day (Saptami- the Paran/ Parna Day).
Hindus believe sun is sacred and hence Indians worship sun. Chhath Puja is celebrated as thanksgiving to the Hindu God of Sun. Devotees are expected to fast for four days. It is believed that the early sunlight helps to cure many diseases and is a great source of healing too.
Here is a brief introduction of the significance of Chhath Pooja:
The puja is also performed to seek blessings from Surya to live longer, healthy and prosper all through the life.
The process of Chatth Puja focuses on the mental discipline of the devotee. The aim is to take the devotee towards mental purity.
By the help of many rituals, the Chatth Vratti (a devotee who observes a fast during chhath is called vrati) focuses on maintaining the utmost cleanliness in all offerings and the environment. During this festival, the one thing that remains on top priority is the cleanliness.
This lays a great detoxification and has beneficial effects on the mind and body. The 36 hours long fasting allows a complete detoxification of the body.Some say that the other story behind Chhath Puja is that Sita observed a fast and offered her prayers to the Sun God in the Kartik month in Shukla Paksha. This was done when Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman were returning to Ayodhya after completing their exile of 14 years. And based on this belief, Chhath Puja has become an important Hindu festival which is observed in many regions of India.
Chhath festival involves women observing a 36-hour-long fast for religious purposes and since it is a very long period of not eating or drinking anything, there are certain precautions that must be taken to survive the same. There are some fasting tips to follow:
Hydrate before the fast: Include fluids like homemade buttermilk and lemon juice would help as they pack in more nutrients and energy.
Couple complex carbs up: Combine them with protein sources like low-fat cottage cheese, curd and more.
Eat healthy carbs: Consume on complex carbohydrates in a regular pattern two days before the fast like sweet potato, brown rice, oats.
Ease up the last meal: Have a simple last meal that will help keep your gut low on acidic flow. Do not eat sugar and sweets in excess. Plan a light dinner with some plain flat breads or chapatis, curd, dal and vegetable soup or stew.
Healthy fasting: Avoid eating a huge meal immediately after the fast, you can have some prasad (religious sweets) to break the fast but try and have some fluids first like lemon water, fruit smoothie or fruit juice to hydrate back and get some energy too.
Go slow: You can have a home-made full meal consisting of celebratory food but try and eat slowly, savour the food and keep it low on oil and sugar to avoid heavy meal post a long fast. This will help the gut get back to normalcy with ease. Else, this could cause indigestion.
It is recommended that you should only be on fast if it doesn’t show any medical implications on your health. Those women suffering from any medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension should avoid fasting.