Chhath Puja and Sun Temples
As we all know, India is a country rich in culture, heritage, religions and festivals. Although there are a variety of festivals based on different cultures, they serve the same purpose, bringing our families together, celebrating, and bringing joy. Whilst there are so many festivals that we are familiarised with, there are many more about whom we only know so much. And, one of them is Chhath puja.
Undoubtedly, most of us know what Chhath puja is, but do we really understand what it is and why is it celebrated? Here are a few things about Chhath puja we should know and honor!
Chhath puja is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Bihar, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Nepal. It is a festival which starts on the sixth day of the Hindu calendar month "Kartik". This festival is devoted to Sun God's worship and his wife, Usha, to thank them for supporting life on earth and seeking their blessings and this is the only festival dedicated to Surya dev, the source of all energy. It is believed in the Hindu culture that Sun heals several health illnesses and offers prosperity, positivity, and well-being as he is the Source of Light, life forces and energy. Chhath puja is celebrated by people who follow the rigorous practice for four days in which the third day is the most important. This festival's tradition and rituals include fasting, holy bathing and meditating in the water and offering prayer to the rising Sun. People travel miles to celebrate it with their families and sometimes to visit Ganga and perform the
holy bathing in the sacred waters of Ganga.
This festival's origin is still controversial, but we can find some of its history in Hindu scriptures and epics. In Mahabharat, it is observed that Karna is the son of Surya dev and Kunti and is often found offering prayers while standing in water. Another story from Mahabharat reveals how Draupadi and the Pandavas perform similar rituals asking their kingdom back.
In the scriptures of the epic, The Ramayana, it is believed, Lord Ram is associated with the foundation of this festival. It is said that while returning from his vanvaas (exile) to Ayodhya, Lord Ram and his wife Sita, kept a fast and broke it only after the Sunset as a tribute and in honour of the Surya dev and this ritual eventually evolved in Chhath puja.
Like most Hindu Festivals, Chhath puja has its scientific reasons apart from bringing the family together. This festival is for detoxification of your body, exposing it to the Sun and dipping in the water. It is also believed that it helps you kill harmful germs and bacterias and prepare the body for the upcoming winter season.
As per one of the legends, Chhath puja is being performed from the early Vedic period that sages from that era used to perform rituals by exposing themselves directly to the solar power (Surya dev) to gain the energy and did not consume anything. This festival benefits the devotees' health both mentally and physically. It calms their mind down, reduces negative energy, increases their immunity, detoxifies the body, and lets the body absorb the calcium and vitamin D at the optimum level.
As interesting the story of Chhath puja is, the actual practice and the temples of Surya dev are even more interesting! There are many Sun God temples in India, and they are undoubtedly, a must-visit for the way they're constructed and their breath-taking beauty. Some of the temples are listed below:
KONARK SUN GOD TEMPLE, ODISHA
The temple is infamous for its Kalinga Architecture which includes a hundred feet high chariot being pulled by the horses and wheels which are carved out of a single stone. There are twenty-four complex wheel designs drawn by seven horses depicting the seven days of the week, wheels representing the twelve months and the day is symbolised by the eight spokes on the wheel, and the whole temple depicts how time is in the hand of Surya dev. The temple is beautifully carved out of stone.
SUN TEMPLE IN MODHERA, GUJARAT
The remaining parts of the Sun Temples at Modhera are relics of times passed when the love of the normal components fire, air, earth, water and sky were at their pinnacle. The antiquated way of thinking, loving normal components and its relationship with people was viewed as the prime power and energy of the existence cycle. A stroll around the peaceful sanctuary grounds makes you mindful of the decidedly tangible emanation of life which the spot transmits and through it carries one nearer to the environs.
The solely cut sanctuary mind-boggling and the sublimely etched kund are gems in the craft of the Solanki time frame's art of stonework, which was otherwise called the Golden Age Gujarat.
GAYA DAAKSHINARKA SURYA MANDIR, BIHAR
The Dakshinalanka sanctuary in Gaya is an antique shrine to the Sun God. Gaya has been an ancient journey place since days of yore. The custom of offering pindas or alms to the dead has been related to Gaya and referenced in the sagas (Vayu Purana). The Surya temple is an old construction in Gaya Offerings to the predecessors are made at the Surya Kunda or the Dakshina Maanas tank before the sanctuary.
KATARMAL SUN TEMPLE, UTTARAKHAND
Katarmal Sun Temple was constructed by the Katyuri ruler Katarmalla in the middle of the ninth to the thirteenth century. Around 17 km from Almora, this antiquated piece of history lies in the salubrious hilly prominences of Kumaon. Katarmal Sun Temple is seen as the second most significant sun temple in India after Konark Sun Temple in Orissa. It is viewed to be the sole sun sanctuary situated in the mountain. A 2 km steep trek is needed to arrive at the temple, the highest point of the slope. What anticipates the trekker is the splendidly made design wonder roosted at 2,116 meters above ocean level. The main god of the all-around planned sanctuary is the old Sun God, known as Burhadita or Vraddhaditya. Forty-five more modest altars encompass the essential sanctum. Other than the sculpture of Vraddhaditya, the principle sanctuary structure likewise incorporates sculptures of different divinities.
Perplexing carvings can be found on doors, panels, walls and pillars. Works of art and beautiful models made of stone and metal exhibit the masterfulness level accomplished by the craftsmen of that time.
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