By Laxmi Chaudhary Janakpurdham, Apr. 9: Devotees in the Mithila region woke up early Friday morning and marked the end of the great festival of Chaiti Chhath by worshipping the rising sun. The festival, as the name suggests, is celebrated in the Nepali month of Chait, and lasts for four days. On the first day, people bathe, purify themselves and take food. The second day is when the Kharna is celebrated where those observing the festival fast the whole day and only eat after offering rice pudding, banana, milk, fruits and sweets to the goddess named Khasti Mata in the evening.
The third day is the main day of the Chhath when the worshippers pray to the setting sun and offer various dishes including different kinds of fruits, vegetables and sweets to it in a ceremony known as giving Argha.
On the fourth and final day, people gather on the banks of water bodies and wait for the sun to rise. Once the sun rises, they enter the water and give Argha to it and formally break the fast by consuming the food items obtained as Prasad. On that day, the fasters also distribute the Prasad to their friends, family and neighbours.
This year, Chaiti Chhath, considered a religiously significant occasion of the year, began on Tuesday and ended on Friday. This Chhath is considered as important as the Chhath that falls on the month of Mangsir after Deepawali. However, it does not get as much media attention and fanfare as its Mangsir counterpart. Celebrating Chaiti Chhath is believed to bring good health and prosperity to one’s children as well as fulfil the heart’s wishes, bring peace in the family and prevent bad luck.
This is the first time in more than two years that people in the Terai districts of Nepal were able to celebrate Chaiti Chhath. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, people had been restricted from celebrating this festival publicly and were limited to marking it in their gardens or on their roofs.
However this year, due to the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, people gathered at water bodies in Janakpurdham and other places across Mithila and marked the festival in a communal manner.