Chhath Puja, an iconic sun worship festival in eastern India (Bihar, UP, Chattisgarh), has transcended regional boundaries, captivating the nation. Migration and the universal concept of the Sun as the life force have propelled its popularity.
Beyond Borders: Sun Worship Across Cultures
The reverence for the Sun God extends far beyond India. Various cultures and religions worldwide have unique ways of worshipping this celestial entity. The Incas of Peru, Nabateans of ancient Jordan, and Shintoism in Japan are a testament to this universal phenomenon.
Inca Civilization: Inti Raymi Festival
The Incas in South America celebrated the annual Inti Raymi festival during the summer solstice. This event, marked by festivities like drinking, singing, and dancing, underscores the significance of the Sun God in Inca culture.
Nabateans’ Sun Deity: Dushara
The Nabateans in ancient Jordan worshipped Dushara as embodying the Sun, daytime, and mountains. Even after the Roman conquest, Dushara’s influence endured, evident on local coins. Temples associated with equinoxes and solstices were erected in Petra, reflecting the enduring legacy of Sun worship.
Shintoism’s Amaterasu: Sun Goddess of Japan
In Shintoism, the sun goddess Amaterasu holds paramount importance, ruling over heavenly realms. The myth of Amaterasu’s retreat into a cave, plunging the world into darkness, symbolizes the cyclical nature of light and life. The current Emperor of Japan traces the lineage back to Amaterasu, embodying this ancient connection.
Neolithic Enigma: Sun in Megalithic Structures
While the religious beliefs of Neolithic societies remain elusive, megalithic structures like Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland offer glimpses of Sun reverence. Newgrange, strategically designed for sunlight on winter solstice, suggests a symbolic celebration of life’s triumph.
Unveiling Atonism: Egypt’s 14th Century BC Revelation
Sun worship has historical roots in Atonism in Egypt during the 14th century BC. Despite being labeled ‘pagan’ by some Christian historians, solar symbols permeate diverse cultures. Notably, Egyptian, Indo-European, and Meso-American cultures developed dedicated solar religions.
Chariots of the Sun: Indo-European Legacy
Across Indo-European, Greco-Roman, and Scandinavian traditions, the Sun God is depicted riding a chariot pulled by horses. This universal motif reflects the divine connection between the Sun and earthly realms, showcasing the enduring legacy of sun worship.
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