Millions pray to rising sun as Chhath ends
Patna: The four-day long Chhath festival ended Saturday morning in Bihar with millions of people, mostly women, braving the chill and taking a dip in the river to offer prayers to the rising sun.
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. They ended the 36-hour fast by distributing offerings among family members, relatives and neighbours.
The sun, considered the god of energy and life-force, is worshipped during Chhath for well-being, prosperity and progress.
"We prayed to the rising sun with traditional offerings including home-made sweets like thekuas, pedas, pakwan, chawal ladoo, fruits, sugarcane and vegetables to mark the end of Chhath," Manorma Devi, a devotee at the banks of Ganga river, told IANS here.
Much to the relief of the state administration, which had made elaborate security arrangements for the festival, Chhath passed off peacefully barring a few minor incidents.
According to officials, over 500,000 people gathered on the banks of the Ganga Friday evening and Saturday morning to offer prayers.
Similar crowds were seen in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea and other districts.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had postponed the campaign for the last round of the six phased state assembly polls, celebrated 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 in-law's 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 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.
The festival, once limited to Bihar, is fast becoming popular across the country due to the large scale migration of workers from Bihar.
The festival, which begins six days after Diwali, was widely celebrated in metros like Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and states like Assam, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and even Tamil Nadu.