by Dr. Venugopal Menon


Jharkhand meaning 'The Land of Forests', is a state in eastern India, with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal, bordering it. It is 14th largest by population with Ranchi as its capital, is known for its waterfalls, hills and holy places. The state was formed in 2000, from the territory that had previously been part of Bihar. The state has large deposits of coal and iron ore, with concentration of industry, in centres like Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Ranchi. Tata Steel, a 500 conglomerate has its corporate office and main plant in Tatanagar, Jharkhand. But in spite of accounting for more than 40% of mineral resources, almost 40% of its population is below the poverty line. Jharkhand is primarily rural, with about 24% of its population living in cities.

The state is famous for its many folk dances and several festivals.

Chhath Puja:


Chhath Puja is one of the major festivals of Jharkhand, celebrated in dedication to the Sun God (Lord Surya) and Chhathi Maiya (another name for Goddess Usha and a known sister to Lord Surya). The festival is called ‘Chhath’ because it means the number 6 in Hindi or Nepali. The festival is celebrated on the 6th day of the month of Karthika (November).

The celebrations last for 4 days thanking the Sun God, the source of all powers. Devotees of the Sun God observe a fast called Vrati. Chhath Puja occurs twice a year – once during summer and once during winter.

Karthik Chhath is performed on the 6th day of the Karthika month known as Kartika Shukla Shashti. This day falls during October or November every year as per the Hindu Calendar. In the summer, it is celebrated a few days after Holi, and is known as Chaiti Chhath.

The rituals surrounding Chhath Puja are supposedly harsher when compared to other Hindu festivals. They involve strict fasting (without water), taking a dip in rivers/water bodies, standing in water and offering prayers, facing the sun for a prolonged period, and offering ‘prasad’ to the Sun during sunrise and sunset. Any food prepared during the festival will have no salt, onion, or garlic. The celebration is for four days, the first day involving a dip in the holy water body with fasting even without water, followed through the next days, but broken after sunset. Prasad is prepared and taken to the river in the evening and offered to the setting sun. Women wear turmeric yellow sarees while performing the ritual. On the last day more offerings are made as they end the fasting and families and friends gather sharing the prasad.