Washington: The ancient Hindu festival
`Chhat`, dedicated to worshipping Sun, which attracts millions
of people in India, has reached the American shores too.
More than 200 people mostly Indian American had gathered
last evening on the banks of the historic Potomac river in
Sterling, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, as four fasting
women took a dip in the water and performed pooja of the Sun
"This is our third year, but the largest gathering so
far," Kripa S Singh, a software engineer from Patna, told
Press Trust of India, as his wife Anita performed the pooja on
the banks of Potomac river.
"More people are expected in the morning," said Singh, who
started the Chhat pooja alone on the river banks in 2009.
Some of the attendees came even from faraway places like
The pooja is being performed by Govind Jha, a priest at
the local Rajdhani Mandir, a temple in Virginia.
It all started some four years ago, when Anita was asked
by her mother-in-law in Bihar to do Chhat pooja come what may
as this is something they could not afford to miss.
Singh inquired among his friends and other Indian American
community leaders if anyone here performed the Chhat Pooja.
They found that people, if any, did it inside their homes
or at the most in a makeshift plastic tub full of water.
While he was doing all this research and inquiry, Singh
and some of his friends went for a picnic on the banks of the
Potomac River in Loudon County, a suburb of Washington DC.
The concrete boat ramp there, Singh said, gave him the
idea that this place could be good for performing Chhat Pooja
in the real way with all the traditional and religious
Soon he approached the Loudon County Parks and Recreation
Department with the details and sought if he can get the
necessary permission to do the Chhat pooja on the river banks.
"Permission was granted," he said.
But in 2009, the first year, Anita was the only one to do
"This year we are four. But more important is that there
were more than 200 people watching this festival Tuesday
evening," he said.
"This is a unique effort to maintain our tradition and
culture far away from other motherland," said Kumar Singh, an
eminent Indian American community leader in Greater Washington