Tuesday, November 14, 2006
chhat puja and cattle worship ("boolatrie")
on the sixth day after divali,'chhat puja' is performed mostly by the people of west bihar.it is worship of the sun god in the morning and in the evening.standing waist deep in the ganges river,the lifeline of bihar, or any big waterbody,arghya(water) is offered to the sungod thanking him for the good harvest and consequent prosperity that he has bestowed. 'chhathi maiya' is invoked and also worshipped along with surya bhagavan.the people of bihar do this puja with great devotion and fervour. the 'chhat puja' has spread to other states as well like up,assam,west bengal and orissa and even to nepal. and for the last few years it is being performed at mumbai as well on the juhu beach. with a large immigrant population of biharis,'bhayyas' as they are called, the popularity of the 'chatt puja' has been increasing every year.
sanjay nirupam,the congress leader,has been the primemover of the mumbai 'chhat puja'. the 'keep juhu beach clean' ngo had obtained a high court order restraining the public from erecting any permanent structure on the beach and to keep the noise level within certain decibels .and also to ensure that the garbage that gets accumulated is removed and not left behind.the court's order was complied with excepting that a huge platform was erected when the permission was for erecting only a 14 feet * 10 feet platform. this year an estimated 5 lakhs of people assembled at the juhu beach on 30th october for the puja.
worship of the sun has been prevalent in different cultures from time immmeorial .the sun was made the hub by our ancestors around which religion revolved. the sun was treated like a living person to whom the people could say prayers and make offerings and pray that their lives and destinies are well directed. the chhat puja has a pious and sombre character about it. the observance of the four day long fasts and the offering of 'arghya' at dawn and dusk and the chanting of mantras and folksongs make the ambience breathtaking amd awesome.strict purificatory procedures in the kitchen are followed by the 'parvaitin' (the lady who performs the puja) before preparing prasad for the puja. 'thekuwas' is the traditional wheatcake made on the occasion and the 'piece de resistance'.
on the final day the puja ends with a crescendo.the chanting of the gayathri mantra."om,bhur,bhuvah: suvah:, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dheemahi, dhiyo yo na: prachodayat". may we meditate upon that effulgent form of the supreme,who is the very essence of aumkara,who stimulates our intellect and who is the creator of all.
it is a bull run for the cattle in bihar in the following days.the farmers worship the animals which have contributed to the success of their harvest. the harvest festival 'sohrai' is the time when the cattle get their choicest food to eat and even a week's rest. they are first thoroughly washed and then their horns and bodies painted with different colours.they are garlanded,decorated and worshipped. the goats are fed and worshipped too.and then a bull fight is organised.it is only symbolic as actually no bulls are killed.it is a tradition being followed for hundreds of years.
for a change for the bulls it is no work and all play.