Chhath festival ends peacefully in Bihar

Patna, Nov 9 (IANS): The four-day Chhath festival ended peacefully in Bihar Saturday morning with millions of people, mostly women, ignoring the morning chill and taking a dip in the river to offer prayers to the rising sun.

Much to the relief of the state administration, which had made elaborate security arrangements for the festival, Chhath passed off peacefully barring a few minor incidents.

"We are relaxed that Chhath passed off smoothly," said S.K. Bhardwaj, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order).

Devotees, known as 'varti', ended their 36-hour fast by offering prayers and floating lighted earthen lamps in the river and other water bodies. They also distributed offerings among family members, relatives and neighbours.

The offerings comprised fruits, home-made sweets like thekuas, pedas, pakwan, chawal ke laddoo (sweets made of rice), raw vegetables and the first crop from the fields.

All the sweets and offerings were arranged in baskets and trays made of bamboo.

Sun, considered the god of energy and life force, is worshipped during Chhath for well being, prosperity and progress.

The devotees had offered prayers to the setting sun Friday.

According to officials, more than two lakh people gathered on the banks of the Ganges and Punpur rivers Friday evening and Saturday morning to offer prayers to the Sun God in Patna and neighbouring districts.

Large crowds were also seen in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea and other districts of the state.

The Chhath celebrations began Wednesday when devotees took a dip in the river, a tradition known as 'nahai khai'. It was followed by the ritual of 'kharna' Thursday when sweet dishes were prepared and distributed among relatives and friends.

The festival, once limited to Bihar, is fast becoming popular across the country due to the large scale migration of workers from the state.

Chhath was widely celebrated in metros like Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad and states like Assam, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and even Tamil Nadu.

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Title: Chhath festival ends peacefully in Bihar

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