Chhati- the Great Surya festival and Me
I have been a chhathivrati since 1995 when incidentally (I had started it. One of my relatives from ex- sasur had said to bring car, I had purchased that year for going to Ghat. I was doubtful of morning rise and hence had decided to stay at his quarters. He had also requested me for kharna Prasad and then I decided to take fast- I had twin objects and was in advance to Lord Suryadev( that my estranged wife returned to me and I should not go to jail on false and frivolous cases related to her divorce suit which I had contested).
The former was not accepted by Suryadev but later He granted me, anyway a 50:50 case, maybe a pass mark for a medico - and as she was also a medico, god also favoured of fairer sex and she was awarded other husband!. I remember she adored Kunti as a character and today I read that because Kunti was a Shashti (including Karna having six-sons) who had observed this fast, it is observed on SHASHTI.
So many myths and stories for this great fast . My father used to tell us- It is Chhat Pita as is the worship of a male god Surya while people say it more as Chhati mai.
I gave arghya this time to Suryadev ,mostly as “Dinkaray namah,” my father was named thus on Surya as Dinkar who I lost this year!
Why Chhathi mata- In fact in eastern India, we are more Shakti worshipper and Adishakti is supposed to be the Progenitor of the World.
Some of the Puranas narrate thus as was said to me by Kiran Jha while she was enquiring me for preparing her role as CHHATI MATA in a documentary or song.
Well! In this way it is a festival of women empowerment and mostly females do fast. May be, for relieving males from the arduous fast. So some feminists may take it as women-disempowering too.
There are some Sun Temples, notably at Dev in Aurangabad district of Bihar and also at Badgaon in the district of Nalanda 2 km from Nalanda railway station and at Haria, 2 km from Narsaliganj in Navada district. These all are in Magadh area though in Mithila too many Surya idols have been found, one at Parsa in Madhubani is famous.
Konark’s Sun temple was attacked by Muslims and was stopped while in-making and no Pran-Pratishtha was done and hence is merely a tourist spot not a temple.
The Chhathi is now celebrated all over the country and many countries abroad though might have started from Magadh.
It has been politicized by some groups too and leaders are flocking to Puja more to have votes than to worship.
I am not a leader and I want to be conspicuously absent and usually go the the place where people hardly recognize me.
And also I never disturb my organizational schedule and try to adjust my time despite traveling.
NMO’s Silver Jubilee 2002 was held on Chhati day despite my protest executive okayed.
Wife of Dr. Narendra Mohan Singh, Prabha Singh now a BJP Councillor had arranged kharna for me and I had gone to Yamuna Ghat to offer evening arghya despite Ma. Sudarshanjee was on dais.
At Ghat, my friend and one time coworker, Ravishankar Prasad, then a Minister, met me and his security had objected to formal greet and meet as I was in a dhoti. Ravishankarjee prohibited security. The same night I went to Agra with Dr. Yogesh Goyal who escorted me to Ghat on his motorbike and from there I went straight to Tundla to catch my train to Ranchi which I would have missed at Delhi in early morning!
Today (Nov.5) is NMO’s Foundation day and I remember Dr. Goswami of Indore whose wife once fed me on kharna though not knowing what to give or not- she had a lot of fruits and milk and something from Haldiram’s too which I should not have taken having salt. The Chhati I had at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s Anushaktinagar where Biharis had dug an artificial pond.
I have seen so many ghats and have introduction with many in the Chhati connection. In 2006, I had kharna at Bangalore at the house of Sanjiv working in software. He hailed from Muzaffarpur and his mother used to have Chhati. The same night I went to Hyderabad where I was advised by Firan Jha to go to Ameerpeth. I reached there by bus and had evening arghya but returning again to the same ghat was not possible and I was asked by a CRPF personnel Sawaria of Muzaffarpur to go to his quarters where in the night I could read a very old version of Ramacharitmanas (Sawariya’s father had that copy) where in the introductory pages I learnt many things eg. 16 shringars include sindoor..and Ayurveda is upveda of Rig-Veda(I was thus far knowing as Upveda of Atharvaveda)..Sawariya insisted that I must have parna at his quarters and after that he provided me a seat to the vehicle going to the Nizam institute of Medicine where I met one person of Veda Bharati (who also confirmed about Ayurveda).
In 2007 I was posted at Bangalore and had kharna again at Sanjeev’s house in Suncity. For evening arghya, the next day I reached Sanky Tank from my office and as I was in tank, I overheard some rumblings. People told me that police had strongly objected and in the morning tank gates may not open.
I went to Sadashivnagar Police station and on behalf of the Antarrarshtriya Maihtili parishad lodged a petition for permission of chhatvratis from the appropriate authorities on urgent level. At last, the SHO permitted for 70-80 persons. As I had also reported the incident to Jeevanedra of the Rajasthan Patrika, it had a wide coverage and when I reached Bihar Bhavan, Opp.RT Nagar PO, the President of Siddhartha Sanskritik Parishad congratulated me as they all had read that news. There on the terrace, artificial water was made available for vratis and all were given parna food.
I feel this tendency of having Chhati in artificial water need discouraged as Chhati is a community festival where cooperation to each other is the mool mantra.
Rather pond cleaning should be done by voluntary efforts.
I had once Chhati at Charoda near Bhilai where my eldest bhauji resides. Rest of 9 times I had chhati at Ranchi’s ponds- button tank or near Shahid Maidan of HEC Sector II. Kharna always I had with some one else who was observing Chhati vrat but this time I had to cook kheer myself as Mrs. Rajnikant Choudhuri had gone to her daughter’s place-Guwahati.
It was a good experience and I fould my stomach was rather better tolerated with self cooked kheer and bananas and apples.
After the day OPD, I restd in my chamber and in the evening went straight to Ghat. Sanjesh Mohan Thakur could not reach there and again I was alone in the city where I am not so unknown. I put my mobile in the bag and asked a person of SAIL to watch my bag and I entered the pond. That man after some time left the place but my bag was safe.
I came out and thought to go to Laxman Raout (of Bhit Bhagwanpur whom I could know throw his son Nirmal, a student of RMC in 1980s while I was residing there and later had intense familial relations before I joined Maithuili movement) who had shown his inability to go to my residence to take milk kept for kharna when I had enquired him whether I could have kharna with his wife’s.
While I was in way, it came in my mind that Dr. Madan Jha ( a senior engineer of HEC hailing from village Gonouli which I had visited once) had his residence nearby the tank and went to his quarters just as atithi- a tithi(a guest- who has no fixed date) and they were happy. His wife too was observing fast and so it was easier to rise up in the morning and I offered arghya in the pond not that I did not have asked for humanly desires but also I prayed for my brothers’ and sisters’ families well being and also prayed for fulfillment of NMO’s objectives as well as Mithila state apart from universal bliss from the god, Suryadeva.
I was not committal as to stop doing Chhati fast from next year as my sister Bindu had asked me who enquired from Delhi on phone as to completion of each step but I do not know whether I can have this next year which only He knows and yes on return I had also Parna at the house of Dr. Madan Jha who had cooked early in the morning himself for me and his better half( who incidentally is from village Panchobh from where comes my one of the Bhaujis, daughter of Madan Choudhary) and I had the remembrance of the unknown house of Sanwaria of Hyderabad whom I will probably never meet again!