After offering the Sandhya Arghya last evening, thousands of devotees spread their sheets on the ghats of the Ganges in Varanasi and spent the night braving the cold to wake up before sunrise and offer Usha Arghya to the rising sun on the last day of Chhath Puja.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Today, November 11, is the fourth and the final day of the Chhath Puja. There is a tradition of offering Usha Arghya (morning offering to the deity) to the rising Sun by standing in a water body, be it a river, a pond or an artificial water tank. After offering Arghya, people sit on the ghat and offer their prayers, then prasad is distributed to the people around.
Chhath festival involves several rituals considered very strict, including 36 hours nirjala – fasting without a drop of water. As part of the festival, devotees gather and take a holy dip in rivers, ponds, and water bodies braving the cold. They also observe strict fasting during the four day festivities.
The four-day long festival is celebrated to worship the Sun god and Chhathi Maiya. The festival is widely celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, border areas in Uttar Pradesh and in Nepal as well.
Some people offer arghya in a brass soop, while others use a bamboo soop; both are considered pure. The beautifully decorated soops with the sweets, water, milk and earthen lamps, are taken to a water body, where the vrati (the person who is fasting), in new clothes, stands knee-deep in water and offers the arghya to the Sun. The festivities conclude with a havan.
Yesterday on the third day of Chhath, which is considered the main day of the festival, devotees prepared khasar (small balls made from rice flour and jaggery) and thekua (made from jaggery and wheat flour) to be offered to the deity. Chhath daala is the offering of seasonal fruits and vegetables to the deity.
Gaon Connection travelled to AhilyaBai Ghat and Dashashwamedh Ghat, the main ghat in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi — the spiritual capital of India — to capture how devotees offered Usha Arghya to the Sun on the banks of the Ganges today morning.
Come, soak in the spirit of Chhath!