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Chhath also called Dala Chhath) is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, also known as Surya Shashti. The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath fesival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hindu mythology, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh to the setting and rising sun.
Although it is observed most elaborately in Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai regions of Nepal in modern times, and is more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence, it is celebrated in all regions and major urban centers in India. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai and Mauritius.
Saurath Sabha Saurath is a village situated six Kilometers north east of Madhubani town in Madhubani. It is famous for being the place where thousands of Maithil Brahaman converged to fix marriage during marriage season. The people gathered at Saurath Sabha Gachchhi (Sabha means congregation and Gachchhi mean orchard in Maithili language). This gathering is an annual event held in the Hindu calendar months of Jyestha-Aasadh. The gathering is organised in an orchard covering 22 bighas of land that was donated by the Maharaja of Darbhanga .
History of Saurath village
Original name of the village, as mentioned in 'Tithi Nirnaya' is Saurashtra. This village was originally named Saurastra, literally a cultural and intellectual centre of sau-rastra, nations associated with Janaka , the ancient king of Mithila . Janak is mention in the Ramayana epic as father of Sita. Tradition has it that the svayambara (self-chosen form of marriage) of Janaka’s daughter, Sita, took place in this village.The presiding God of this village is Somanath or Shiva.
Saurath Sabha or Sabha Gachchi
Mithila King Harisinghdeva (1310-1324) introduced Panji Prabandh in Maithila. This applied to Brahimins and Kayasthas. Panji Praband gave rise to an elaborate system of genealogical records, which is known as Panji. This was considered a major social reform at that time and was enforced through royal patronage and supervision. It was proposed that to facilitate marriage and to curb evil practices associated with the fixing of marriages, the marriage people should be allowed to meet father as well as the prospective grooms so that the marriage could be fixed in front of everyone.
Tradition of Saurath Sabha
Almost every year, during suddha or auspicious days for the settling of marriages, thousands of Maithil Brahmans gather at Sabha Gaachchi in Saurath. The Panjikaras (the person maintaining "Panji" or genealogical record) plays a very important role in fixing of marriage since it is obligatory for every person desirous of marriage to get a certificate called asvajajanapatra (non-relationship) from a panjikara, stating that there is no “blood relationship”, as per the prescribed rules of prohibited degrees of relationship, between the bride and groom. There is a fixed sitting place - dera - for every village in the sabha.