Legend dictates that Chhath Puja has been performed since the Early Vedic Period and sages from this era used to perform the prayers by exposing themselves to direct sunlight to get energy and life force from the rays of the sun, after having maintained a fast. This ritual is still carried out by various people in their own prayers.
Another legend believes that in ancient times, Draupadi and the Pandavas used to celebrate Chhath in order to solve their problems and gain back their lost kingdom. Yet another legend believes that Chhath Puja was first performed by Karna, the offspring of Lord Surya and Kunti. Karna was the ruler of Anga Desh, which is present-day Bhagalpur in Bihar.
Chhath Puja is considered to be one of the oldest rituals mentioned in the prominent mythological scriptures. The Rigveda also contains some hymns worshipping the Lord Surya. Chhath Puja has found a place in the pages of both Ramayana and Mahabharata.
In the Ramayana, the Chhath ritual was performed by Lord Rama and Sita after their return from the exile of 14 years. It is believed that Sita Charan temple in Munger, Bihar is the place where she performed the Chhath vrat.
According to the Mahabharata, Lord Surya’s son Karna was the first person to perform some of these rituals. He offered prayer to the Sun god standing in the water and offered Prasad to the needy. This gradually became a ritual of the Chhat Puja. Later, Draupadi and the Pandavas performed these rituals to regain their lost kingdom.
Chhath Puja’s Association with Ramayana
It is believed that Lord Rama is associated with the inception of Chhath Puja. It is said that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya then he and his wife Sita observed a fast in honor of the Sun god and broke it only with the setting sun. It is one such ritual that is subsequently evolved in Chhath Puja.
Chhath Puja’s Association with Mahabharata
Famous Mahabharata character Karna is said to be the child of Sun god and Kunti. It is said that Karna usually use to offers prayer while standing in the water. However, there is another story that mentions how Draupadi and the Pandavas also performed a similar puja to get their kingdom back.