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Surya

Surya, the Sun god among Hindu Gods and Goddesses, is an ancient and revered deity. Surya is the most prominent of the Navagrahas or nine celestial deities of Hindus as per Vedic Hindu Astrology. No Hindu Puja is complete without first pacifying the Navagrahas, as astrology happens to be an integral part of the Sanatana Dharma rituals. The charioteer of Surya is Arun (redness personified, i.e. the one who causes orange and red hues) at sunrise and sunset. As per Hinduism facts, Sun rides a chariot driven by seven white horses representing the seven colours of the rainbow or the seven chakras located on the Kundalini.

God Surya is the only one among all the gods of Hinduism who is actually visible and thus directly prayed to in daily life. Surya is the life giver, sustaining all life on earth by providing all radiance and energy. As such, Vedas frequently refer to Sun as "Mitra" due to his invariable warmth.

The Ädityas are one of the principal deities of the Vedic classical Hinduism belonging to solar class. Vedas dedicate numerous hymns to Mitra, Savitr etc. The widely acclaimed Gayatri Mantra, dedicated to Savitr, one of the principal Ädityas, is one of the most sacred of the Vedic hymns. The Ädityas are a group of solar deities numbering twelve. The ritual of Surya Namaskar, one of the most important rituals performed by Hindus, is an elaborate set of hand gestures and body movements, designed to greet and revere the Sun.

The Suryavanshi dynasty of kings, Rama being one of them, claims descent from Surya, or the clan of the Sun. Ramayana tells us that Surya is the father of King Sugreeva, who helped Rama and Lakshman in defeating the demon king Ravana. He also teaches Hanuman in all scriptures.

According to Hindu Astrology, Surya's two sons Shani and Yama are responsible for the judgment of human life.

There are various festivals dedicated to Surya, the Sun God in India. Makar Sankranti is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals dedicated to the Sun God. Hindus celebrate it as Makar Sankranti in north and western India while Tamils celebrate it as Pongal all over the world. People thank the Sun God for ensuring a good harvest and dedicate the first grain to him.

Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, unique to Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai. As per popular imagination, it was Karna, the son of Surya, who became a great warrior and fought against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War, who initiated this practice. Hindus celebrate Chhath in some Parts of Uttar Pradesh, Nepal & Mauritius, besides in the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Chhattisgarh.

One of the most important devotional songs frequently recited to praise the Surya comes from the Rig Veda, Book 1 Hymn 35 :

Throughout the dusky firmament advancing, laying to rest the immortal and the mortal, borne in his golden chariot I see him cometh, Savitr, the God who looks on every creature.

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