Kathmandu: The Chhath festival observed as a common cultural symbol of Tarai/Madhes is beginning today.
Festive fanfare has been seen in different parts including Ranipokhari, Gaurighat, Kupondole of Kathmandu Valley as well.
The festival is dedicated to the Sun God, with offerings made to the rising and setting Sun. It is observed for four days, from Kartik Shukala Chaturthi to Kartik Shukla Saptami as per the lunar calendar.
It usually falls between October and November in the Gregorian calendar. The Sun considered as the God of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress.
Chhath is a festival of bathing and worshipping that follows a period of abstinence and segregation of the worshiper from the main household for four days.
During this period, the worshiper observes purity, and sleeps on the floor on a single blanket. This is the only holy festival which has no involvement of any pandit (priest).
The devotees offer their prayers to the setting sun, and then the rising sun in celebrating its glory as the cycle of birth starts with death. It is seen as the most glorious form of Sun worship.
Arba-Arbain ritual is observed on the first day. This ritual is also called nahaya-khaya. Devotees start observing fast from this day and abstain from eating meat and fish, onion, garlic, millet and lentils.
They take holy dips in ponds and rivers on this day in the early morning and start the fast. On the second day (panchami), kharana ritual is observed, which is also known as ‘reduction of sins’.
A paste prepared by mixing rice flour and holy water is sprinkled over the place and the altar for performing Chhath rituals. The devotees observe a complete fast on this day without drinking even water.
They offer rice pudding to the moon and partake in this offering. On the third day of the festival, various delicacies are prepared from flour of rice and wheat grains grounded in traditional grinders.
On this day, the devotees go to the banks of the pond or the river, specially anointed for the rituals in the early morning. As per the myth, human civilization developed on the river banks and the sun and water are the most essential elements out of the five main elements that sustain life on earth (RSS).
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