Chhath and Sun Temples of Bihar

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Sun is considered to be the creator of the material universe and has been worshiped in India since the early vedic times. Sun, personified as Surya, is the first god described in the ancient Hindu scriptures – the Vedas and the Puranas. 

It is not surprising then, that the celebration of worshiping the Sun god is one of the most important festivals of India in general and for the people living in lower gangetic plain of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhesh region of Nepal in particular.

It is said that the rituals of Chhatth Puja, dated back to ancient era. It finds mention in the ancient Vedas- Rigveda featuring different hymns adulating the Lord Surya and exemplifies similar customs. The custom of worshipping god Sun, also finds a reference in the Sanskrit Epic poem of Mahabharata in which Draupadi is described as observing the same rituals.

Apart from thanksgiving to the sun for the energy, the bounty, and the blessings bestowed by him, people also worship the Chhathi Maiya on these four days. The Chhathi Maiya is believed to be the feminine energy empowering the Sun and also known as Usha (Dawn) by Vedic scriptures. She is believed to be the beloved younger wife of Surya, the sun god. In Mithila region of Bihar she is also worshiped as name of "RANA MAI ".

The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.

The most unique feature about the Chhath Puja is the main idea behind it which is above the disputed concept of Murti Pujan (Idol Worshiping) unlike most of the festivals of the Hindu religion. Some people simply believe that, Sun is necessary for life of possibly every creature on the earth and this festival is a way to pay tribute to it irrespective of caste, creed, gender and social stigmas.

The main worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women. However, a large number of men also observe this festival as Chhath is not a gender-specific festival. The parvaitin pray for the well-being of their family, and for the prosperity of their off-springs.

The prasad offerings include sweets, Kheer, Thekua, rice laddu (made of rice grit) and fruits (mainly sugarcane, sweet lime and banana) offered in small bamboo soop winnows. The food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.

During this time, the ardent devotees observe fast and prefer to visit different ghats or prominent temples, which are dedicated to Sun God. 
Here is the Photographic documentation of some prominent Sun temples of Bihar, where one can observe the revered Chhath Puja celebrations. 

Deo Sun Temple, Aurangabad

Umga Sun Temple, Aurangabad

Sun Temple, Kandaha Saharsa
Image Credits: Google

Sun Temple, Banjari, Rohtas

Happy Travelling !!

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