Millions in Bihar offer Chhath prayers to sun

    By IANS,

    Patna : Millions of people across Bihar, mostly women, fasted, sang traditional songs and offered prayers to the Sun God to celebrate the Chhath festival Friday.

    All the devotees, locally known as ‘varti’, donned new clothes and sang folk songs as they prayed to the setting sun to rise with greater brilliance on the morrow. They lit small diyas, or earthen lamps, that were set afloat in rivers and other water bodies, under heavy security cover.

    “Banks of the Ganga, different ponds and other water bodies were crowded by devotees and their families, who conducted rituals and offerd prayers to the setting sun,” a police official said.

    From busy roads to narrow lanes along with river banks, ponds and makeshift water tanks were cleaned and decorated for the occasion.

    The four-day 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 festival. Devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, and other fruits to the Sun.

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

    In Patna and other towns, all roads leading to river banks were decorated and cleaned for the devotees to offer ‘arghya’ or oblation to the Sun.

    Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is also celebrating the festival with his family members at his official residence.

    With Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in Ranchi jail after being convicted in a multi-crore-fodder scam case, his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi observed a fast on the occasion and offered prayers.

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

    The festival concludes Saturday with devotees worshipping the rising sun.

    The Chhath is celebrated on the sixth day after Diwali.