Biharis celebrate Chhath Puja
The Bihari community across India celebrated 'Chhath Puja' on Monday.
Dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, the festival is also known as 'Surya Shashti'.
The word 'Chhath' means six in Hindi and the festival is performed by the devotees on the sixth day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik.
The Chhath puja is performed to thank 'Surya' (sun) for sustaining life on earth and to request the God to grant unfulfilled wishes of the worshipers.
The festival is popularly celebrated in Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
However, it also observed with equal fervour by the Bihari community in other states including West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, New Delhi and Maharashtra.
On this auspicious day of Chhath Puja, the bathing ritual is followed by a period of self-restraint and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for the next four days.
It is said that, during this period, the worshiper sleeps on the floor with nothing but a blanket.
The devotees offer prayer to the setting sun and then the rising sun.
The main worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women.
However, a large number of men also observe this festival.
The women pray for the good of their families and for the betterment of their offsprings. It is believed by the followers that once the festival is observed by a family, then it is their duty and responsibility to follow it every year and also make their following generations celebrate the occasion.
The 'prasad' (offering) includes sweets and fruit offered in small bamboo winnows.
As purity is a crucial thing in the festival, devotees strictly cook vegetarian foods during this period.
Emphasis is put on maintaining the purity of the food.
The four days of Chhath puja are called- Nahakha ( bath and eat), Kharna (the day before Chhath), Chhath Sanjhiya Arghya (evening offerings) and Parna (the day after Chhath).
It is believed by the followers that one, who performs the ritual on this day, enjoys several benefits as it causes great detoxification effect on the body and the mind as mental moods can result in biochemical changes.