Millions offer prayers to mark Chhath festival

Patna, Nov 6 (IANS) Millions of people, mainly women, marked the festival of Chhath on Sunday across Bihar by fasting, praying, singing traditional devotional songs and making offerings to the setting sun.

The four-day Chhath festival began on Friday when devotees took a dip in rivers, a tradition known as ‘Nahai khai’. It is followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ on Saturday when sweet dishes are prepared before fasting.

Married women observe fast for 36 hours during the festival. Devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the Sun God. In many parts of the state, the festival is celebrated with fervour and zeal.

In Patna and other towns, all roads led to the riverbanks which were decorated and cleaned for the devotees to perform ‘arghya’ or oblations to the sun.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his cabinet colleagues preferred to spend the day with their families.

There was no Chhath festivity at Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad’s residence as his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi announced she would celebrate Chhath only after her two sons get married.

In Patna, over 50 ghats or riverside bathing platforms on the banks of the Ganga have been given the last-minute facelift by the administration and volunteers.

The authorities had declared more than two dozen ‘ghats’ in Patna unsafe and dangerous.

Chhath is associated with faith, purity and devotion to the Sun God. Colourful idols of the Sun God riding his chariot with seven horses, a new attraction this year, were sold on riverbanks.

The administration and dozens of voluntary organisations worked round-the-clock to clean the roads leading up to the banks of rivers and water bodies.

The festival will conclude on Monday morning with devotees worshipping the rising sun.

Chhath is celebrated six days after Diwali.

–IANS

ik/pgh/vt

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