Patna, Nov 2: Despite the shadow of violence against North Indians in Mumbai looming large, people in Bihar are fully geared up to celebrate the popular 'Chhath' festival with utmost devotion and dedication.
The four-day festival is the first of its kind perhaps in the world as during the period the devotees pay obesiance to the setting Sun God on the penultimate day. The festival is celebrated every year from the fourth day after the celebration of Diwali, and falls on November four this year. Biharis living in Maharashtra are heaving a sigh of relief as MNS chief Raj Thackeray has said his supporters would not create any hindrance in the smooth celebration of the Chhath festival in Mumbai. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also expressed hope that the Maharashtra government would ensure the safety and security of the Chhath devotees despite violence against north Indians in recent past.
Emerging from the shock of killing of a Bihari student Rahul Raj by the police in Mumbai recently and eruption of anger among youth of the state here resulting in paralysing of trains for about two days, fresh vigour and enthusiasm was palpable among the devotees for celebration of Chhath festival with traditional fervour.
The four day long Chhath celebration begins today when devotees would take holy dip in the Ganges and other rivers of the state as steps for series of ablutions before paying obesiance to setting Sun God on November 4. The festival will culminate on November 5 after offering the Araghya (obesiance) to rising Sun God by devotees on the banks of rivers and other places across the state.
The 'Nahai-Khai', literally meant having meal after taking dip in 'holy water', the devotees would observe it tomorrow with all piousness as part of the step for 'ablution' and 'self purification' to become spiritually prepared for obesiance for the Sun God. On the occasion of Nahai-Khai, the devotees take 'Arwa Chawal' and 'Chana Dal' and Kaddu as the meal and also distrbute the same as 'prasad' to others.
On November 3, the devotees will observe ''Kharna'' as they take 'Kheer' as meal after Sun set following day long fasting. After that, they observe complete fasting for about next 36 hours to pay obesiance to setting Sun God next day and again offering 'Araghya' to rising Sun on following day to mark culmination of the Chhath festival. The devotees offer seasonal fruits, and special wheat preparation of flour which is popularly known as ''Thekua ''to the Sun God with great dedication and piousness.
Besides, the celebration of Chhath festival on the banks of almost all the rivers across the state including the Ganges, people also offer Araghya to Sun God at Sun Temple in Deo in Aurangabad.
The district administration of Aurangabad has taken all steps to ensure the smooth celebration of Chhath festival at Deo. Special fair is organised here, where a large number of people from distant places participate with traditional enthusiasm and fervour.
Similarly, at Aungari Sun temple in Nalanda district, devotees in large number offer Araghya to Sun God on the occasion. The district administration has made elaborate arrangements to ensure hassle free and smooth celebration of Chhath festival. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar recently made on the spot inspection of ongoning preparation and cleanliness drive being carried out on bank of river Ganges in Patna and directed the officers to ensure fool proof arrangements for smooth celebration of the festival.
On the directive of Chief Minister, the state government has banned ferrying by the private boat owners on November 4 and 5 without obtaining license from concerned district administration. The decision had been taken keeping boat mishaps in consideration, claiming several lives in past due to overcrowding and violation of other norms.
State police headquarter has issued instructions to all district police superintendents to ensure fool proof security of devotees and others during the festival. Adequate security personnel would be deployed at all the places where large number of devotees are expected to offer obesiance to Sun God.
Taking proactive initiative, people have launched cleanliness drive at ghats on the bank of the rivers besides all the roads, lanes and bylanes leading to the ghats. At several places in the state capital and other parts of the state, statues of women offering Araghya to Sun God would be installed.