The 4-day rituals of Chhath Puja include taking holy baths in the river, fasting, and offering Prasad and arghya to the sun during sunrise and sunset.
First day: Nyay-Khay
On the first day, devotees take a bath in the holy water of Ganga early in the morning. After this, they prepare prasad to offer to the Sun god. The entire house and surroundings are purified with Ganga Jal. People observe fast and eat just one meal in the entire day. They prepare chane ki daal, kaddu ki sabzi, and kheer in bronze or soil utensils. Salt is not added in the preparation of this meal.
Second day – Lohanda and Kharna (Argasan)
During the second day, the devotees fast for the entire day and break it after worshipping the Sun god in the evening. A special meal of Tasmai (a dish similar to kheer) and puris are offered to the Sun god, after which devotees can break their fast. After worshipping the god and breaking their fast, people again fast for the next 36 hours. They go without water and food during this time.
Third day – Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings)
The third day of Chhath Puja is also observed by fasting and without drinking even a drop of water. On this day, the children of the family prepare bamboo baskets and fill them with seasonal fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, dry fruits, and sweets like ladoo, saanch, and thakua. The male members take the basket in their heads to the riverside. These baskets are kept open at the ghats where the Vratin takes a dip, and offer ‘arghya’ to the setting sun. These baskets are brought back to the house after the ritual.
At night, a colorful event called Kosi is celebrated by lighting diyas under five sugarcane sticks while singing folk songs and mantras. These five sticks represent the five elements of nature or the Panchatattva which includes the earth, water, fire, air, and space.
Fourth day – Bihaniya Arghya ( morning offerings)
On the last day, devotees gather with their families on the banks of the River before sunrise. The baskets are brought back to the ghats and vratin takes a dip in the water and offer prayers and prasad to the Sun and Usha. After the offerings, the devotees break their fast and have Prasad from the baskets.
On the way back home, the vratin worship the soil as a gesture of thanks for providing them with food.