Jamshedpur: The famous festival based on the worship of sun God, Chhath will begin tomorrow with devotees performing ritual of nahay-khaye. The city is abuzz with activities as devotees are set to perform rituals to begin the fast required for the revered festival. It is perhaps the only time of the year that people, forgetting differences of caste, colour and creed, stand alongside and pay obeisance to the Sun.
Makeshift markets have come up in different localities of Jugsalai, Bisutpur, Sakchi to sell fruits and other commodities like baskets and `soonp’, used by Chhath devotees for paying obeisance to the Sungod.
Several youth and activists of different NGOs have started cleanliness drive in their respective localities. “This is the only festival for which people voluntarily come out to clean the city though, ironically, most of them dump their garbage right in front of their houses throughout the year,” said Ramesh Prasad.
Different puja committees are erecting welcome arches at many places in the city. They have also started making lighting arrangements along the roads leading to the ghats.
Purity is strictly observed during the festival. Also, onion and garlic are not used in many households, especially those whose member(s) are on fast for the Chhath, during the four days.
The four-day Chhath festival, in continuance of a tradition that goes back to posterity, carrying forward India’s living tradition of worshipping the divine creator and nourisher — the Sun God.
Legend has it that Draupadi, the wife of the PanchPandavas, performed Chhath when in exile from Hastinapur. As many as 14 shlokas have been dedicated to Usha — or ChhathiMaiya — in the earliest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda.
Usha has sometimes been mentioned as the Sun’s beloved and other times as the Sun’s wife, and therefore the name Chhathi Maiya.
Chhath is celebrated twice a year, once in May-July called ChaitiChhath, and once in October-November called KartikChhath.
In the four-day festival, the first day begins with the ritual bathing. On the first day, `arwa’ chawal, kaddu (gourd), the price of which escalates to Rs 100 a kg during Chhath, and bajka is cooked in the daytime.
The second day, called Kharna or Lohanda, the `parvaitin’ (the fasting person offering `arghya’) fasts with not a drop of water or morsel of food going into her mouth. She starts, with assistance of womenfolk of the house, cooking huge quantity of `prasad’, mainly `kheer’ (rice cooked in jaggery sans milk) and puris, on mud chulhas.
The `parvaitin’ then fasts, without food or water, for the next 36 hours. The third day begins with the fasting woman cooking `thekuas’ and decorating jute-knitted `soops’ with coconuts, diyas, soaked gram, apples, `kasar’ (made of powdered rice, black sesame seeds and jaggery), `thekuas’, dry fruits, besides tall sugarcane sticks and entire stalks laden with ripe bananas for offering as `arghya’ to the “Astachalgami Surya.”