Devotees pray to Sun God in Varanasi on occasion of Chhath Festival
Devotees in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and in Siliguri, West Bengal, observed the 'Chhath' Festival, a Hindu festival dedicated to Sun God, on Monday on the banks of the River Ganges.
Chhath is celebrated on the sixth and seventh days after Diwali, and is significant for married women who observe a three-day fast and present religious offerings to the Sun God while standing in knee-deep water.
A devotee, Sheela Singh, told media that the festival would end with the breaking of the fast by presenting the religious offering to the rising sun.
"We observe fast for the whole day and in the evening we make vedi (clay mounds representing Hindu Goddess Chhath Mata). We also prepare jaggery sweet. Tomorrow we will present the offerings (Aragh) to the sun in the evening as well as at around 4.00 am in the morning. The festival ends with the breaking of the fast," said Singh.
Festive spirit gripped the air as devotees made a beeline in the markets to purchase religious items.
The rising inflation has not dampened the spirit of the devotees who purchased all the essential commodities for the festival.
"The spiralling inflation has affected but we are purchasing the religious offerings keeping in mind the festivities," said Singh on Monday.
According to traditions, on the first day, devotees, mostly women, take a dip in the river and begin fasting.
On the second day, the rituals are performed at home, while over the next two days devotees take a dip in the holy rivers and worship Sun God and pray for the welfare and prosperity of their families.
Devotees also congregated on the banks of River Mahananda in Siliguri, West Bengal, and put up make shift tents.
A devotee, Rajesh Hela, said that all the family members enthusiastically participated in decorating the riverbanks.
"We decorate the riverbanks and all our family members get engaged in this work. We bring empty vessels and fill it with the river water and then decorate the area," said Hela in Siliguri city.
Chhath Puja is considered as a most auspicious festival for the people of eastern Bihar state and in parts of neighbouring, northern Uttar Pradesh state.
It is also popular in metropolitan cities like Kolkata, Pune and Mumbai where there are large number of people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.