Chhath Puja 2020: Celebrating Chhath amid Covid-19

Devotees step into water bodies to offer prayers, ignore safety protocols

Culture

November 21, 2020

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Chhath is considered to be the last leg of festivities in the Hindu tradition. Dedicated to the Sun God, Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day after Deepawali, one of the most popular Hindu festivals, giving it the name Suryasasthi.

The four-day festival usually celebrated with much gaiety and religious fervor mainly in northern and eastern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal missed it charm this year due to the ongoing pandemic. In New Delhi, for instance, traditionally thousands of persons hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh gather at the Yamuna banks for Chhath Puja.

However, this year, following the ban imposed on public gatherings, the Puja has been a low-key affair, with most devotees praying at home, instead of going and offering prayers on the river banks, lake or pond as is the usual ritual.

Yet, for many celebrations remained the same. Casting aside government warnings on risk of Covid-19 infection, devotees participated in Chhath Puja with traditional gusto in various parts of India. Dozens gathered near a pond in Faridabad in Haryana, dressed in traditional attires and offered prayers to Lord Sun. Following the traditional practice of offering prayers at river banks on the concluding day of the four-day Chhath Puja, devotees were seen offering prayers in various water bodies.

On day one of the festival, devotees take a holy dip in a waterbody and offer prayers. On the second day or Kharna devotees fast without water up to sunset. The following day is the most important day when devotees offer Sandhya Arghya and go without water up to sunrise the next day. The fast is broken by consuming and distributing thekua (a sweet snack). Chhath ends with Usha Arghya, which is the last day of the festival.

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