Chhata maharani ki jai by ajay jha
As a child when you grow up in Chhata-celebrating community you find out that all festivals pale in insignificance before it. Chhata is celebrated with utter seriousness and chat maharani is revered a lot in our community.
Such venerations, I believe is born out of long experience. Million and million of peoples’ faith in Chat may be a subject of sociological debate but the pay off of a pooja done with sincerity and purity must have been there to give rise to abiding faith.
My memory of venturing into the room where chhata Prasad is kept before the puja without being properly clean is vivid. My mother, a sweet lady otherwise, would turn into shouting demonic figure and would behave as if I have defiled the God.
Chhata falls after Diwali. We would save crackers from Diwali to be able to fire them on the eve of Chhata. We as a child would store crackers for months before Diwali to beat neighbourhood boys when it came to “who has the biggest stock”. But the lure of coming Chhat would be so strong that we would save some crackers from diwali nevertheless.
The ghat where the chhatt would be celebrated has also interesting story to tell. The lost and forgotten bank would suddenly get every body’s attention. Local politicians will start visiting it and would pitch in to spruce it up for the big occasion.
People generally have earmarked spots for themselves and we as children would begin to decorate the place. Banana trees and its broad leafs come very handy. Lighting arrangements are also done on a big scale so that the owner of the spot will have added sense of pride.
Evening argh takes place amidst music and sound of bursting crackers. The song of Sharda Sinha and likes would convert the whole atmosphere very heart touching. One really goes nostalgic thinking about those days as the pressure of metropolitan life has robbed us of careless joy these days.
Arrival of Chhata coincides with onset of winter. Quilt and sweaters are generally used for the first time in the winter season on the morning argh of chat. You have never prepared with a zest and enthusiasm for the arrival of Sun god as you do now. People get up early morning nay night to prepare to go to ghat.
Arriving on the ghat, getting inside the water and waiting for the Sun God are indeed thrilling. Facing east with folded hands faithful presents a sight of spiritual India—a sight without any parallel in the world.
And the thrill of having Thekua and bhusava, right there on the ghat after the pooja- will usher in a sense of completion of this great festival. Shouting Chhata maharani ki jai we will return home with a sense of triumph and satisfaction.