Jamshedpur: Despite fear of Covid-19 looming large, the four-day Chhath festival, one of the most popular and biggest in the city has gripped festive fervor in the city. On Thursday, another ritual Kharna was observed, followed by main offerings of argya to the Sun god.
Chhath, celebrated six days after Diwali, is dedicated to the sun god. During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.
In Jamshedpur alone, hundreds of roadside vendors, mostly poor men and women, sold these items. “Bamboo baskets in different shapes, locally known as soop, tokri are being used by devotees,” Devi said. Another devotee Rinku Mishra, dressed in a new cotton sari, said: “We first took baths to clean ourselves before preparing food to mark the beginning of the Chhath festival.” She said the age-old “ritual of Nahai-Khai — preparing traditional food — is a symbol of purity and strict discipline during the next phase of the festival”.
A devotee is a `varti` – 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 the city unsafe and dangerous.
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. Preparations for the success of the religious programme of the Sun Temple is on a war footing by committee.
Baghbera Mahanagar Vikas Samity, (BMVS) has been actively pursuing the cause of the locals for the last 30 years however, from the last three years it has begun serving the Chhat devotees by all 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 officials, 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. “We largely request our donors to purchase puja materials on their own and join us in distributing the pack.