New Delhi/Patna/Varanasi, November 17: Millions of people in different parts of the country congregated at river banks to pray to the rising Sun, as the three-day long Chhat Puja concluded on Saturday.
In New Delhi, devotees gathered on the banks of the River Yamuna with baskets of fruits as offering to the Sun God.
Women held special prayers for the welfare and prosperity of their families by performing a ritual in which they stand waist-deep in water and offer fruits and flowers to sun.
Neelam, a devotee said: "When Sun God rises, we look and offer him milk, water and other offerings in plates."
“It is a gesture of thanksgiving and also seeking the blessings from the forces of nature, mainly the Sun God and the river is the core of the festival," Meghna, another devote, added.
Similar was the scene in Patna, where people gathered on the banks of the Ganga to offer their final prayers. It is believed that the wish of devotees, who followed all prescribed rituals during the three days, is fulfilled. "There is no dearth of wishes. Whatever one wishes for - money, knowledge, a son - everything, one gets. But one has to have patience. It is not that the wishes will be fulfilled today itself," said Munkarwati Singh, another devotee.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, along with his wife Rabri Devi and children also participated in prayers in Patna. "I have prayed for the welfare of everybody, including myself, so that I can serve the country. I didn't observe a fast, but Rabri. I and my children helped her in her prayers," he said.
In Varanasi, scores of devotees converged on the banks of the Ganga and offered prayers and performed established rituals. On the first day, devotees, mostly women, took a dip in the river and started fasting for four day. On the second day, a prayer is performed at home, while on the final two days, devotees take a dip in rivers and offer special prayers to the Sun God seeking welfare and prosperity of their families.
Popularly called ''Bratees'' in local dialect, the festival is especially significant for married women. Over the years, the Chhath Festival has been closely identified with Bihar, an is compared to the Bihu Festival of Assam, Pongal of Kerala and the Ganesh Festival of Maharashtra.