Bihar prepares for Chhath
Sobha Devi was one of the millions of devotees preparing for Chhath Puja Friday -- the annual Hindu festival which will start across Bihar and other parts of the country the next day.
Sobha Devi, who is in her early 40s, will fast, observe rituals and perform oblations to the sun god during the four-day festival which begins Saturday.
"I have bought a cotton sari, bamboo basket and other materials for rituals and prayers," said Sobha Devi, who helps her husband Mahesh Prasad run a general store in the Bihar capital.
Another devotee Manju Singh here is also eager for Chhath to start.
"It is a festival of purity and devotion," said the housewife from a posh locality here.
Chhath will began with 'nahai-khai'. Devotees, mostly married women, will throng to river banks early in the morning for a ritualistic bath, before preparing the traditional meal of boiled rice and pumpkin.
This will be followed by 'kharna', when 'kheer' will be cooked and distributed among neighbours, friends and relatives.
During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.
The Patna administration, along dozens of voluntary organisations, is working round-the-clock to clean and beautify the banks of the Ganga.
But high prices of fruits and vegetables have dampened some of the festive spirit in the city.
"We have bought less vegetables, fruits and milk for Chhath this year," said Sobha Devi.