Odisha CM sends greetings to Chhath Puja; Mass bath allowed in Bhubaneswar

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Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday sent greetings to Chhath Puja, which is celebrated in its usual grandeur with devotees flocking to water bodies across Odisha to pay homage to the rising and setting sun, after a hiatus in two years due to COVID restrictions.

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has authorized mass bathing in various water bodies and cleared the banks for devotees to perform Chhath rituals. Tents have been pitched on the banks of the Kuakhai River.

Bhubaneswar Mayor Sulochana Das visited the banks of the Kuakhai River on Saturday and asked officials to make arrangements for worshipers to observe the festival without hassle.

The festival follows Diwali and Bhai Dooj begins on the sixth day of Kartik Maas, hence the name Chhath Puja where ‘Chhat’ means six. The puja is performed to deify and pray to the Sun. It is observed for four days in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Nepal.

The meaning of rituals:

NAHAI KHAI OR NAHA KHAY

Devotees bathe in a body of water on the first day. In addition to cleaning their own body, they also clean their home and surroundings.

After the bath, the prasad is cooked using ingredients like moong-chana dal, pumpkin and bottle gourd. The women, called ‘Vrattis’, observe the fast and eat prasad only once a day. Other family members will only eat after the vratti has eaten the prasad.

LOHANDA AND KHARNA

This marks a full day of fasting among the Vrattis. After sunset, the Vrattis prepare a special prasad called Rasaio-Kheer, eaten to break the fast. Devotees offer their prayers to Chhati Maiya and offer a special dish called Thekua.

SANDHYA ARGHYA

Sandhya, in Hindi, means Evening. Therefore, Sandhya Argya involves praying and resting at home. Folk songs are sung by the water bodies. As the sun sets, devotees pray and then return home to enjoy Thekua, the prasad made from jaggery and flour.

A canopy made up of five candy canes, representing five elements of the Earth, is an integral part of the prayer. The ritual is known as “Kosi” and is mostly performed by a family who has recently attended a birth or wedding.

USHA ARGHYA

It involves offering prayers to the Sun, and all religious rituals are performed at dawn. Devotees sit near the banks of the water until the sun rises. At daybreak, the morning argya is offered by going into the water. Vrattis break the fast by eating prasad and receiving blessings from family elders on the last day of the festival.

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