As soon as the Diwali’s hustle & bustle settles down, the people especially from Bihar get ready to rejoice the much awaited ChhathPooja. Chhath is an important festival in Hindu religion. Celebrated mostly in Bihar and Nepal’s Mithila, Chhath Puja is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha. Devotees perform the puja to thank the Sun god for supporting life on earth and also to seek his blessings.
In the Hindu religion, the Sun is believed to be the healer of many severe health conditions and ensures longevity, prosperity, progress and well-being. People celebrate the festival by following a rigorous routine that lasts four days. The rituals include: fasting, abstinence from drinking water; taking a holy dip in river or pond, offering prayers to the rising and setting sun, and meditating by standing in water body for long period of time.
Chhath is celebrated twice a year, the Chhota Chhath which is celebrated few days after Holi and is also known as Chaitri Chhath, and the other one is on Karthik Shashthi (after Diwali).
The first day of Chhath – is observed as Nahay Khay (a ritual of taking a holy dip & eating a single meal). It starts exactly 4 days from Diwali. On this day, people observing fast take a bath in a river or pond and eat a lunch of Kaddu Bhat (rice, lentils mixed with bottle gourd, made in pure ghee). Cooking is strictly performed in a clay pot and Iron Kadhais (pan) on chulhas or wood fire.
Second day (5th day from Diwali) is observed as Kharna or kheer- roti. Vratis observe a strict fast that lasts until sunset and even abstain from drinking water. This fast ends post sunset with a meal of Kheer-roti, after offering it to the rising moon and Goddess Ganga. The Kheer is made with rice, jaggery and milk or rice, milk and sugar. Once, my friend from Bihar, informed me that in their house, this kheer is served in clay bowls (locally called Kasaura) and offered at 13 different places in their house. This is the only time when they eat or drink anything from the starting of the day till the last day of Chhath.
The third day is the main festival day (exactly 6th day from Diwali) of Chhath. Devotees maintain ‘Nirjal Vrat’ (abstinence from drinking water) on the third day. The rituals comprise of going on river bank and offering ‘Arghya’ to the setting sun. The river bed-Ghat resonates with the Chhath songs and Bhajans and this whole celebration is called as Sandhya Arghya. The Ganga Ghat bears an auspicious aura with the women adorning orange colored Sindoor that starts from nasal apex till the parting in their hair, carrying handcrafted bamboo thalis with 5 types of seasonal fruits, a piece of cloth (except black), kulhads filled with green /black boiled chana, dry fruits, Kalash decorated with mango leaves, coconut tied with sacred thread, and lit diyas. Sun God is offered with the delicacies like Thekua (Deep fried wheat flour- jaggery Biscuits).
On the final day of Chhath Puja, devotees, along with their family and friends, go to the riverbank before sunrise, in order to make the offerings (Arghya) to the rising sun. On this day, the offerings are the same as on the third day but to the rising Sun. Hence the ritual is called as Bhorwa (meaning early morning) Ghat.
The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the Vratins. Friends, Relatives visit the houses of the devotees to receive the Prasad. The fast comes to end after offering Arghya to rising sun. In this way, nearly 36 hours of strict penance comes to an end. The Prasad offering includes sweets, Kheer and Thekua. The food is strictly vegetarian and is cooked without salt, onions or garlic. Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.
Seeking the blessings from God Sun, let’s take a vow to save our environment and energy from Sun for better future, we are glad to share with you this delicious Thekua.
Wish you a happy and blessed Chhath Pooja!
- 2 Cups=250gms Whole Wheat Flour
- ¾th Cup=150gms Jaggery (or Sugar)-grated
- ¼th Cup=25gms dry Coconut-grated
- 2-tbsp Ghee
- ½-tsp Fennel Seeds-coarsely grounded
- ½-tsp Cardamom Powder
- ¾th Cup Water
- Oil for frying
- To start with, we will melt grated Jaggery in water. Put ¾th Cup water in a pan and heat the water. Add grated Jaggery in water and allow it to melt completely. If you are using Sugar, allow it to melt completely similarly.
- After 1-1/2 mins, Jaggery has completely melted. Remove from heat. Allow it to cool down completely.
- Pass the wheat flour through a sieve. Passing through sieve, ensures that we get rid of impurities from wheat flour. Now add grated dry Coconut, grounded fennel seeds and cardamom powder. Now mix the ingredients with your palms. (Ensure you have washed your hands thoroughly)
- Add 2-tbsp lukewarm melted Ghee. Put Ghee and mix it well. Rub the flour between your palms. We will use jaggery water when it comes down to room temperature. Texture of wheat flour must be like a bread crumbs.
- Now add jaggery water gradually and knead into a firm dough. We have kneaded this into a firm dough. It has some cracks on the surface. We are left with ⅓rd cup Jaggery water. Dough must not be too soft. Rest the dough for 10 mins.
- After 10 mins, now make lemon sized balls. Apply some Ghee on palms. Now shape the dough into round balls. Press into flat discs. Usually, you can use Thekua molds to shape Thekuas. However, I do not have one now. Thekua must be a bit thicker. If it is too thin, it may get burnt while frying. We will use a fork for shaping the Thekuas.
- Traditionally Thekuas are deep fried. We can also bake the Thekuas. Let me show you how to bake thekuas. Take a low rack and baking tray. Grease the baking tray with some ghee. Place 4 Thekuas on the tray. Apply some Ghee on each Thekuas. Let's now bake these Thekuas in Oven.
- a) Mode: Convection b) Temperature: 180 degrees C c) Press Start twice for Pre-Heat
- Now place the baking tray in Oven.
- a) Mode: Convection b) Temperature: 180 degrees C c) Timer: 15 mins d) Press Start
- Now, we will deep fry Thekuas. Heat Oil for deep frying on medium heat. Do not heat on high heat. Heating on high can result into Thekuas getting burnt.
- Reduce the heat and put Thekuas in Oil for frying. Thekuas must be fried on low -medium heat. Wait for a minute before changing sides. After a min change sides.
- We have deep fried Thekuas for 5 mins. Thekuas are evenly browned and well cooked. Remove from Oil. Also remove baked Thekuas from Oven.
- Fried and Baked Thekuas are now ready. Allow the Thekuas to cool down completely before serving.
- Our Desi Cookies-Thekuas are now ready. Known with different names like Khajur, Khajuriya and Khasta, these Thekuas taste delicious.
Click to watch recipe video