The four-day Chhath festival ended peacefully in Bihar on Monday morning with millions of people, mostly women, ignoring the morning chill and taking a dip in the river to offer prayers to the rising sun. Devotees, known as ‘varti’, ended their 36-hour fast by offering prayers and floating lighted earthen lamps in the river and other water bodies. They also sang traditional songs and distributed offerings among family members, relatives and neighbours.
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The offerings comprised fruits, home-made sweets like thekuas, pedas, pakwan, chawal ke laddoo (sweets made of rice), raw vegetables and the first crop from the fields. All the sweets and offerings were arranged in baskets and trays made of bamboo.
Chhath passing off peacefully barring a few minor incidents is a big relief to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the state administration, which had made elaborate security arrangements.
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The Sun, considered the god of energy and life force, is worshipped during Chhath for well being, prosperity and progress.
The devotees had been offering prayers to the rising and setting sun since Friday.
According to officials, more than five lakh people gathered on the banks of the Ganges and Punpur rivers in the last two days to offer prayers to the Sun God in Patna and neighbouring districts.
Large crowds were also seen in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea and other districts of the state.
The celebrations began with devotees taking a dip in the river, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’. It was followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ on Saturday when sweet dishes were prepared and distributed among relatives and friends.
The festival, once limited to Bihar, has become popular across the country due to the large scale migration of workers from the state.
Chhath was widely celebrated in metros like Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad and states like Assam, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and even Tamil Nadu.