Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Chhat Puja

The Chhat puja takes place every year,around one week after Diwali.Devotees pray near river banks and pay their regards to the Sun God.

One of my personal favorite times of the year is undoubtebly the Diwali-Chhat week.After the whole euphoria of Diwali,this makes sure that the excitement does not die down immediately,there is a lot to look forward to.So the streets are lined with long sugarcane sticks and fruits and other essential paraphernalia and we are all set to celebrate,once again.

The puja is usually done by one member in the family and all the relatives gather at there to help her out.So it's a great get together,with the girls helping the female members in preparing the offerings and singing enchanting devotional songs while the guys take care that the entire paraphernalia is transferred to the river bank on time.And mind you,getting a spot on the bank isn't easy.What looks like infinite strecth of river bank on a normal day is filled to the very brink,with 2-3 layers of devotees waiting behind the ones who have the spots to touch down on the river.

The first evening of the puja is when the offerings are made on the setting sun.Perhaps the only example when a setting sun is worshipped.The things that are taken to the ghat are very heavy and it usually requires a strong built man,or one with great resolve to do that.Some walk barefoot to the ghat,stepping over the steep stones,without wincing.I tried to do that once,without the weight on my head.I was stubborn enough to complete the feat,but later realised that religious penance has a limit in my case,and I was pretty close to that.

Anyway the evening offerings being made,people head back,only to come back in the morning to worship the rising sun.This is the better part for me.Waking up at 3 am in the morning and shifting the stuff to the bank and waiting for the people to join in.The morning air has it's own chill,but the warmth of excitement counters that.By 4.30 am everyone is ready to make offerings.

The most beautiful and spiritually rousing part comes when thousands of earthen lamps,one from each devotee,are released into the river.The lamps float into the dusky dawn light,shimmering and getting reflected by the river.All the separate lamps join together before they vanish into the horizon.And almost symbolically the sun comes up right then,rising slowly from the same place where the lights had just disappered.Breathtakingly beautiful.

If I were Wordsworth,I would have wrtten an epic on it.But all I can manage is 'Twinkle Twinkle little lamps' which sounds vaguely familiar so I let go my effort.Maybe someday I will write something better.

Meanwhile the offerings all made,it's time to head back to home.Not without having some water splashing fun in the river though.All wet and hungry we pounce upon the sweet prasad offerings and eat them the entire day.Fulfilling day in all respects.

The get together ends,everyone takes back their share of offerings,blessings,paraphernalia.And takes back a lot of memories too.I miss this here,maybe I'll go down to the Juhu beach this time to see how it's celebrated on the sea-side.Any invites?. Not that I need one :D



Blogger sheel sumit said...

feeling real sentimental now aftr reading this.i can understand those memories n longings because i feel them just as much,if not more.its only when iv come so far frm home(and more than a thousand miles our case)that i know n realize what place those images of bright orange semi suns standing in the twilight lit river have inside me.
looking forward to more posts with memories of jam, i know i will associate with.


3:02 PM  
Blogger Mandrake said...

very cool reminds me of my days at patna!!

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Arnav said...

This blog is a great idea. Have just read this one post by now though.
How can you talk of Chhat and not accord 'thekua' a special mention? I miss that the most, and going to everyone's place to eat the kheer prepared from gud. Damn! I'll probably never experience all that again!

7:35 AM  
Blogger Nikhil said...

[sheel] Just let me know when you want to add something.

[rajat] Yeah,thanks.Hope you find other things interesting too.

[arnav] Thanks.I wanted to include each and every detail,I miss them all.But things will get too long then :((.

But 'thekuas' I should have,the single most identifiable thing :)

I miss the Kharna rituals you mentioned.Sometimes used to go to as many as 6 places at a time,and they all insisted that I could eat even more!

I'm getting the blues again :(

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Divya said...

Oh my God...thats a gud piece u've written abt chhat...i remember my grandmom used to do chhat puja n we used to go at the banks of kharkai. after we left jsr i could neva enjoy chhat like i did b4. but yeah i still manage to get "thekua" n go to give "arg" n also enjoy d local chhat songs on "kharna"...

5:22 AM  
Blogger Oracle Guy said...


What a great blog you have got here, really brought back lot my memories of my hometown. I can never forget carrying the 'Daura' (The basket where you keep all the Puja Stuff) on my head and walking (bare feet) all the way to the Hudco Dam from my home.On our way to the CHHAT GHAAT We would here women singing CHHAT geets like 'Sugwa ke marabo Dhanush se..Suga murajhay' .

In the morning me an my brothers ould reach early to fill 'Koshi' and then come back to take the Daura again..

I have passed the baton (although very unwillingly) to my younger brothers who have been doing these over last 10 years as I have moved to US. I hope to be in India some day and relive the experience.

3:07 PM  
Blogger aarthi kannan said...

it's a really good blog u've out me damn interested..sply ur writing style
if u dont mind a suggestion to do even better, i guess u could liven descriptive entries with a few memorable or funny incidents related to them if possible..
nyway, keep writin

11:33 AM  
Blogger Umesh Agrawal said...

hey guys!!
This is good blog for spreading the spirit of JSR.
Well here's my contribution :D

4:01 PM  
Blogger Umesh Agrawal said...

just a lil suggestion if u find no harm in accepting it.
Change the Blog Title to
"A longing to be where we belong - Jamshedpur"

so outsiders know wht city we are talkin abt :D

4:04 PM  
Blogger Nikhil said...

Sorry folks been a long time but I hope to update pretty soon.

[divya] Thanks.I wish I could be so lucky after leaving jsr :(

[og] Thanks.Very moving experience that you shared.

[aarti] Well thanks,I thought I would make this the more 'serious' blog,but now I'm having second thoughts.

[ua] Thanks.Had read that in the papers,nice piece that.And about changing the title,I think only people from our city would be interested in this.Nahi to will change it someday.Kepp suggestions coming in..

10:38 AM  

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