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Govt declares public holiday on Chhath

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As the Uttarakhand Government has declared a public holiday on Thursday to mark the ongoing Chhath Puja festivities  the devotees have performed ‘Kharna’ in the evening on Wednesday, the second day of the four-day puja.

 The Kharna rituals involve  prayers offered and prasad, including ‘kheer’ prepared in newly  bought earthen pots to be offered to the Sun god on Thursday evening.

The Chhath Puja organisers in the State capital, Rishikesh, Haridwar and some other  places where the people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh are living in large number were seen cleaning the ghats of the rivers on Wednesday too as the puja would culminate in the rituals to be performed on Thursday evening, known as ‘argya’ and also on Friday morning.

TheGovernment order (GO) regarding public holiday on Chhath Puja was released on Wednesday.

Earlier, some BJP MLAs met the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and requested him to declare public holiday on Chhath Puja in view of the large presence of the Bihari community people in the state. Thanking the Chief Minister, a Dehradun-based academician, who hails  from Bihar,  said that the Chhath festival has shed  its regional exclusiveness to turn into a national festival.

 “And this is what should happen. The Hindu people, no matter wherever they are, must show empathy for any Hindu festival or puja that might not originate from  the places they are from. It is what the inclusive, assimilative spirit of Hinduism signifies. And it is what makes it different from and stronger than others,” he commented.

Ramnath, a devotee found busy in cleaning a ghat at  Rispana, said that around 150 families from Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh would officer Chhath prayer here. “I from Sitamarhi (Bihar)   settled in Dehradun about 30 years ago for livelihood. Since then I  along with his family members have been offering Chhath prayer here.I am thankful to the Chief Minister for declaring a public holiday on Chhath puja.

The State Government should  also help the organisers to found temples at the Ghats aside from doing a little more for the smooth conduct of the   puja,” he said. 

Anita Singh, another devotee, said that devotees who perform Chhath puja are called ‘Parvaitin’ (usually women). “They observe a period of abstinence and segregation from the main households for four days. They  fast too  while praying for the family’s prosperity. The fast is also observed  by the childless couples  as a ‘manauti’ or pledge for a child,” she said.

The ‘Parvaitins’ perform ‘Chhath’ only if and when it is passed on to them from their elders. Once they take on the responsibility, they have to follow it lifelong till they pass it onto the next generation. The puja is skipped only in case of a death in the family. In families where women are sick and not in a position to observe the fast, men observe the fast and perform the rituals.

“The beauty of the festival is the ambience created during the prayers offered at the ghats. Millions of earthen lamps are lit at the ghats while devotees offer prayers to the Sun, a spectacle that takes one away from the mundane to a supra-mundane plane,” exclaimed Aarti. 

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