Chhath Fasting in USA, ‘Arghya’ in India

Early morning, I could view the e-mail from Alapana, my daughter-in-law in US. She has gone for pre-Chhath fast. I got excited. “Will she carry out all rituals too?” I am sure US law and administration will not allow someone to pollute the water bodies as done in name of religion in India.

My wife informed, “She will be fasting only and someone else will carry out the rituals here in India.” Is it some sort of outsourcing of religious rituals too? Yamuna expressed her wish to go once to US and celebrate this Chhath there with all her daughters-in-law. I wonder if it will be possible. However, years ago I myself used to fast when in Hind Motor for Yamuna. Even today I understand the people of Bihari origin in Mauritius and other places also celebrate Chhath in big way. I will certainly like to go there once.

Fasting is real rigorous for Chhath. While Thursday was a day of ‘barawana’ (meaning limited type of eating), when the fastee can take only plain simple food with no onion or garlick even in curry or lintel even. Real fast starts on Friday that is ‘sanjhawat’ (evening of sweet food), when the fastee can eat only puri or roti with sweet milk pudding (kheer or sewayian) only in evening. The fastee is expected to drink as much water as possible with food only, as the fastee can’t take even water till Sunday morning when he completes the offerings to Sun God after seeing the Sun. It will be tomorrow (Saturday) evening, when the fastee will give his first offering (arghya of fruits, sweet breads, and milk) to the setting Sun in a water body, river, or even in sea. Fast continues till Sunday morning. After bath in water body, the fastee gives the second and last offerings to the setting Sun. The fast ends.

There is short too. For circumstantial reasons, one can certainly go through the rituals on the rooftop or in front of the house with a big bucket full of water. As I came to know, many in India also follow that route. Even in Noida one of Yamuna’s friend will have it on her rooftop. Holy River Yamuna’s water in New Delhi is so polluted that someone like me hardly can dare to get into it for ‘arghya’ to Sun God.

Since yesterday TV channels and newspapers are carrying reports. Chhath as it appears has Vedic origin. It is for Sun God. Bihar and to some extent eastern Uttar Pradesh celebrate it as major festivals. With increasing population from the region shifting to New Delhi and NCR, it has gained importance here too. Politically, these people in Delhi significantly influence the election results. As it appears, all political parties and its leaders are busy in facilitating this festival. Haryana has given water to fill Yamuna. All ghats have been made ready to handle the crowd that will be there on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

I was amazed to read a report in today’s Times of India by one Maneesh Pandey that I didn’t know. It says, “In the badlands of Bihar, it is said that no crime is committed during three days of Chhath.” Last year I wished that the people of Bihar must vow to have Chhath, if Lalu’s misrule of 15 years ends after the assembly election. I wish this time a prosperity and development of Bihar as a whole under the new leadership. I pray for getting back the old glory of the state this time.

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