Jamshedpur, Nov. 16: The four-day Chhath festival, one of the most popular festivals of the local populace, commenced on Sunday, and devotees observed the ritual of Kharna today, which will be followed by main offerings of argya to the Sun God on Wednesday.
Over the years Chhath is being closely identified with Bihar – on the lines of Bihu in Assam, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and the Ganesh festival in Maharashtra.
Chhath, dedicated to the Sun God, is a festival wherein married women observe fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.
According to one devotee Ranju Mishra, “We first took bath to clean ourselves before preparing food to mark the beginning of the Chhath festival.” She said the age-old ritual of Nahai-Khai — preparing of traditional food — is a symbol of purity and strict discipline during the next phase of the festival”.
A devotee is a `vrati` – the one who performs the Chhath prayers and follows other rituals. It is a festival associated with faith, purity and devotion to the Sun god. Colourful idols of the Sun god riding his chariot with seven horses, a new attraction this year, were sold on riverbanks, which were cleaned up and decorated by the devotees.
The administration along with dozens of voluntary organisations worked round-the-clock to clean the roads leading up to the banks of rivers and water bodies. District authorities have declared `ghats` in city unsafe and dangerous.
Popular playback singer Sadhna Sargam will perform at the Surya Mandir in Sidhgora and preparations for the success of the religious programme at the Sun Temple is on a war footing. Patron of Surya Mandir Committee and Jharkhand Chief Minister, Raghuwar Das said that such programmes are being organised for several years to mark Chhath celebrations.
Baghbera Mahanagar Vikas Samity (BMVS) has been the locals for the last 28 years to celebrate Chhath. Since the last three years, the organisation has been serving the Chhat devotees with different means. �Ideally, we purchase fruits and other logistics required for preparing the Chhat Soop (winnowing basket) and deliver it to the devotee families belonging to the economically weaker sections,� said Subodh Jha, president of BMVS.
According to the outfit members, several business families, largely those residing in the Jugsalai Municipal Area and Bistupur, have come forward to extend support to the organization in their pursuit to assist the economically poor Chhat devotees.
�We receive support from individuals and institutions, who are relatively better economically, however we avoid receiving cash donations,� said Jha, adding, �We largely request our donors to purchase puja materials on their own and join us in distributing the pack.�
Meanwhile the district traffic police have banned the entry of heavy vehicles into the city from midnight today to 9 a.m. tomorrow.