Bhubaneswar: Embracing the culture and celebrations of northern India with warmth and love like that of a family, the temple city is decked up in the hues of Bihar this week. The Bihari community in Bhubaneswar celebrated Chhath Puja today at the Kuakhai river bank and at other water bodies too.
Chhath puja; the biggest festival of Bihar, celebrates and worships the Sun God and his wife, Usha often referred to as Chhathi Maiya or Rana Mai, for bestowing blessings in the lives of everyone and requesting them to grant their wishes. The eldest woman of the family usually is the Bartin, i.e., the one who keeps a fast and performs all rituals.
It is a four-day festival; day one is Nahai khai which falls four days after Deepawali where the women take holy bath in the river/pond nearby and have pure vegetarian food without salt, onion, and garlic.
Day 2 is Kharna, where these women are on fasting the entire day and have Kheer and Roti in the evening after offering it to the Moon and Goddess Ganga.
Day 3 is the main festival day, also called Sandhya Arghya which is performed on Karthik Shukla Shashthi. Women wake up early morning and prepare all the prasad that is to be offered and in the evening, women head to the river/pond dressed in the traditional attire of Bihar. The family members follow her, holding the bamboo basket, often called soop, with fruits and other offerings.
The river/pond bank is decorated with flowers and banana stems and leaves; women stand in the water with the basket in their hands facing the sun and the male members of the family offer water, one of by one, on those baskets.
Similar rituals are followed the next day, on Usha Arghya, which is the last day, where the offering is done at dawn. Women break their fast this day and distribute the prasad to all family members and neighbors.
Main offerings, or Prasad, in this festival, is thekua, kheer, laddoo made of rice grit, and fruits like sugarcane, coconut, apple, bananas, among other things.
Odisha Sun Times wishes a very happy Chhath Puja.