Pro. R.N. tripathi
India is the only country where festivals are celebrated in one form or another throughout the year in all societies. There are certain festivals which are celebrated by every section of the society with equal enthusiasm. One of these great festivals is ‘Chat’. The duration of each festival in India depends on the scientific time constraints like sunrise and sunset within 24 hours. ‘Chhata Mahaparva’ also follows the same pattern according to the movement of the sun.
If we study the method of Chhata Puja, we will find that river water for worship is equal for all, the deity of all worshipers is same – Surya. The songs are also almost similar and based on traditional locale. The place of worship is a collective, literal river bank… that is equal for all. The puja materials of every fast are also the same. Rice, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and bananas are readily available to everyone.
There is also equality in the distribution of Prasad. According to ‘Ishavasyopanishad’, each person should take a portion of Prasad and distribute the remaining portion to others. Which can also be considered as a direct example of Gandhi’s principle of trusteeship. The sun also in its natural state rises and sets simultaneously for all without any discrimination.
What is the meaning of Chhat, what is the message?
All our festivals focus on solar energy. Talking about Chhat, it is a festival of a purely scientific nature, as we know that the main source of all life is the Sun. So only Sun is worshiped in this festival. Udayman means the rising and Astachalgami means the setting sun is worshipped. It is believed that this human life given by nature will one day end in the lap of nature. Therefore, with all societies and inclusive ideals we should treat people equally.
The egalitarian view of Pujya Surya says that it gives light to trees, leaves, roots and living beings. It gives the same amount of light to us humans as it gives to rivers and mountains. He gives light to all creatures of nature with equal consciousness. The message is that only those societies are happy and prosperous, where there is no inequality in mutual distribution and rights. This festival is famous for maintaining natural closeness and equality in the society. Just like in the sun.
Whatever we have taken from nature, we have given it.
Chhat is a purely natural festival, where nature is worshipped. Products provided by nature are worshiped and dedicated to nature. In this festival, all elements of nature are worshipped, especially “Chiti Jal Pabak Gagan Sameer”. It is said that we humans are the only tiny unit that is important in the creation of the entire biosphere. So we are only partial enjoyers of nature. So never try to conquer the entire nature. Utilize natural resources judiciously as partial consumers, also keeping in mind the spirit of participatory and inclusive sustainable development.
It is a festival which also focuses on the employment aspect of every class and every caste i.e. their economic development. Where starting from bamboo to fruits, flowers, baskets, ropes, sweets, various types of agricultural and cottage industry businesses, i.e. the lower and working class people of the society get employment. So this festival is also called universal festival.
A festival of physical, mental and ideological purity
The Chhat festival lasts for four days, offering physical, mental and ideological purification. It awakens all our inner energies and creates a sacred feeling within us to manifest a sense of equanimity. Nowadays cleanliness has become synonymous with a beautiful society. An example of this can be seen in Chhat Puja where all the elements of cleanliness, cooperation and natural beauty exist together.
Our Indian festivals are festivals of cultural immortality, so in this festival we maintain our principle initiative of Indianness i.e. ‘Udarcharit naam tu vasudhaib kutumbkam’. Chhat’s prasad society does not distribute it on the basis of caste, religion or community, but is accepted by all irrespective of wealth and poverty. Let us embrace the sun in the sacred festival of nature. Awaken your sense of responsibility towards people by following folk culture. The festival awakens self-awareness to join hands and build an inclusive, welfare society for all with joy. This will be the end of the festival and will be the ultimate virtue.
– Dr. R. N. Tripathi is Professor of Sociology at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Member of Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC).
(Disclaimer: These are the personal views of the author. The author himself is responsible for the truth/accuracy of any information given in the article. News18Hindi is not responsible.)
First Published: November 20, 2023, 14:46 IST