Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chhath Puja - Hindu Rituals for the Sun God

Chhath Puja, also known as Surya Shashti, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated in the northern regions of the India. These regions include Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Other places where Chhath Puja is observed are Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai, Nepal and Mauritius. The word ‘Chhath’ has its origin in ‘sixth’ as it is celebrated on the 6th day or ‘Shasthi’ of the lunar fortnight of Kartik (October - November) in the Hindu calendar – six days after Diwali, the festival of lights.

The origin of Chhath Puja dates back to Vedic times, as Vedic texts contains rituals associated with the worshipping of Sun. It is also believed that Draupadi, from the epic Mahabharata, used to perform similar rituals. Some people also believed that Chhath Puja was started by Son of Surya, Karna from Mahabharata. Chhath Puja is not only religiously significant, but also has several mental and physical benefits. Physically, the practice of Chhath facilitates in improving the immunity of the devotee. It is also believed that light rays emitted by sun are quite beneficial for the normal maintenance of the body. Being antiseptic in nature, the safe radiations from sun can help in curing fungal and bacterial skin infections. Sunlight received during Chhath provide energy that when get combined with blood streams enhances the performance of white blood cells, which further leads to improving fighting power of blood.

How Chhath is Celebrated
Chhath can well be regarded as the state festival of Bihar, where it goes on for four days. Outside of India, Chhath is mainly among celebrated by the Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking community apart from the Nepalese Hindus. It assumes a joyous and colorful form as people dress up in their best clothes and gather by rivers and other water bodies to celebrate Chhath. Many devotees take a holy dip at dawn before preparing the ritual offerings or ‘Prasad,’ which mainly comprising ‘Thekua,’ a hard and crude but tasty wheat-based cake usually cooked on traditional earthen ovens called ‘chulhas.’ The divine offerings are placed on circular trays woven out of bamboo strips called ‘dala’ or ‘soop.’ Women adorn new clothes, light lamps and sing devotional folk songs in honor of ‘Chhat Maiya’ or the holy river Ganga. After sunset, devotees return home to celebrate ‘Kosi’ when earthen lamps or ‘diyas’ are lit in the courtyard of the house and kept beneath a bower of sugarcane sticks. Serious devotees maintain a strict anhydrous fast of three days.

While the exact origins of Chhath Puja remain undefined and ambiguous, some believe it dates all the way back to Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

The two legends associated with Chhath Puja are as follows:
Said to be a descendant of the Sun god, some say Lord Rama has a lot to do with the inception of Chhath Puja. On returning to Ayodhya after the exile, Lord Rama and Sita observed a fast in honour of the Sun god and broke it only at the break of dawn next day--a ritual that subsequently evolved into the Chhath Puja.

Prominent mythological character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna religiously offered his prayers while standing in the water and distributed prasad among the needy. 

Yet another story mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas performed a similar puja to win their kingdom back. 

The 4 Days of Chhath

Day 1: Naha Kha/ Nahaye Khaye

On the first day of Chhath, devotees do not consume food before taking a bath, after which they prepare food items like chane ki daal, kheer, kaddu ki sabzi among others. 

Day 2: Kharna

Devotees fast till the Kharna puja concludes. After which a combination of jaggery-laden kheer and puris is offered to the gods and distributed among those who'd observed the fast.

Day 3: Pehla Arghya

The toughest and third day of Chhath has devotees--mostly women--observe a rigid fast where they neither consume water nor food. Dedicated to Sun god's consort, Chhathi Maiya this day is marked with folk songs and taking dips in the holy waters of Ganga, Kosi and Karnali--that go on till the sun sets.

Day 4: Doosra Arghya/ Paaran

Devotees break their long fast after offering prayers to the rising Sun.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Republic Day

Republic day in India is celebrated every year with great honour on 26th of January to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950. It had replaced the Government of India Act, 1935 into the governing document of the India. At this day, a national holiday is declared by the Indian Government. The new Indian constitution was sketched and approved by the Indian Constituent Assembly and decided to celebrate it on 26th of January every year as India became a republic country.

As Independence Day in India is celebrated to enjoy the freedom of India from the British Rule, Republic Day in India is celebrated to commemorate the coming of its own constitution into force. Officially it is celebrated every year in the national capital of India (New Delhi) at the Rajpath in the presence of the President of India. Mini celebrations are also take place in the state capitals in the presence of the governor of the state by spreading out the National Flag of the country.

January 26 is declared as the gazetted holiday all over the country by the Government of India. It is celebrated throughout the India with great enthusiasm by the students and teachers in the schools, colleges, universities and other educational institution.

An excellent parade and salute event is held by the military team at the Rajpath in front of the India Gate in the New Delhi, India.

How Republic Day is Celebrated:
Events and celebrations are organized with great effort by the Government of India already to celebrate the Republic Day in the Capital. A huge and grand military parade is held in the New Delhi at Rajpath as well as the state capitals. Participants from the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and traditional dance group takes part in the parades.

Parade held in the New Delhi starts especially when prime minister of the India offer garland at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate. It is done to commemorate all the sacrifices of the Indian army soldiers while saving their country. The military salute is taken by the President of India during the parade in the Capital whereas military salute is taken by the state governors in the state capitals. At this special day, a foreign head of the state become chief guest of the president.

National awards (Maha Veer Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Param Veer Chakra, Veer Chakra) and bravery medals are also distributed at this day to the soldiers of armed forces, common people and students from the school. Armed forces helicopters do parade in the surrounding area of the India Gate to shower the rose petals over audience. A dance parade by singing patriotic songs is also performed by the school children. Armed Forces staff performs the motorcycle rides whereas the staff from the Indian Air Force perform fly parade through the fighter planes (making tri color of the Indian Flag by the smoke) for offering the honor salute to the president.

A range of traditional and cultural programs are performed by the professionals from different states to focus the history and culture of the country. During this grand celebration, a prime minister’s rally and Lok Tarang-National Folk Dance Festival is also held from 24th of January to the 29th of January.

All the Government and non Government offices of the nation and state including post offices, banks are closed at this day. Special security is organized at this day because of the huge crowed and prevent the common people from any problem.

History of Celebrating Republic Day:
India got freedom from the British Rule on 15th of August in the year 1947. At that time, there was no any permanent constitution of the country. First time, the first draft of the Indian Constitution was presented by the drafting committee to the national assembly on 4th of November in the year 1947. The first draft of the Indian Constitution was signed by the national assembly in both version, the English and the Hindi on 24th of January in the year 1950.

Then the Constitution of India came into effect on the Republic Day means 26th of January in 1950. From then, the 26th of January was started celebrating as the Republic Day in India. At this day, India was declared as the Purna Swaraj Country thus it was started celebrating every year as the anniversary of the Purna Swaraj Day.

The Constitution of India brought the power to the Indian citizens to select their own government. The oath was taken by the Dr. Rajendra Prasad as a first president of the India at Durbar Hall in the Government House. India has big history behind celebrating the Republic day.
Importance of Celebrating 26 January

Republic Day is the symbol of true spirit for the independent India where military parades, exhibiting military equipment's, salute to the national flag by the Indian president and variety of events are take place at this day. Indian national flag has horizontally tricolor (upper saffron, middle white and bottom of dark green color divided in the equal proportion) and a wheel (navy blue color, having 24 spokes) in the centre representing the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

India is a country having people of different cultures, societies, religions and languages who interplay with each other harmoniously. Independence to the India is the great pride as it was obtained over years after facing a

Republic Day Parade:
This is the real picture of the Republic Day parade at the Rajpath by the President’s Body Guards, coming out from the President’s house, wore the winter ceremonial dress. The Bodyguard of the President of the India becomes a specially selected Indian Army from cavalry regiment, based in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi and a senior most unit of the Indian Army. The Bodyguards of the Indian President becomes fully responsible for guiding and protecting the President of India. They become fully equipped with equipment's, BTR-60 vehicles to use in any combat and ride horses.