Millions in Bihar pray to setting sun on Chhath

Patna, Nov 12 (IANS) Millions of people across Bihar, mostly women, fasted, sang traditional songs and offered prayers to the setting sun to celebrate the festival of Chhath Friday.

Devotees, locally known as ‘varti’, wore new clothes, and sang folk songs as they prayed to the sun god and lit small diyas, or earthen lamps, that were set afloat on rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

Busy roads to narrow lanes and river banks, ponds and makeshift water bodies had been cleaned and decorated for the occasion.

The four-day-long Chhath began Wednesday when devotees took a dip in the river, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’. It was followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ Thursday when sweet dishes were prepared and distributed among relatives and friends.

Married women fast for 36 hours during the course of the festival. Devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.

In many parts of the state the festival is celebrated with religious fervour and zeal.

In Patna and other towns in the state, all roads leading to river banks were decorated and cleaned for the devotees to perform ‘arghya’ or oblations to the sun.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had postponed the campaign for the last round of six phase state assembly polls, is celebrating the festival with his family members.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad spent the day with his family as his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi observed a fast on the occasion.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan along with his wife Rina Paswan took part in Chhath celeberations at his daughter’s in-laws residence here.

The festival also saw a rare show of harmony with people cutting across social barriers gathering to celebrate Chhath in villages and towns.

The festival concludes Saturday with devotees worshipping the rising sun.

Chhath is celebrated six days after Diwali.

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