As Chhath ends, Hindu-Muslim amity shines through

November 2nd, 2011 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 2 (IANS) Hundreds of thousands prayed to the rising sun Wednesday after taking a dip in rivers and ponds across Bihar to mark the end of Chhath. The four-day festival again became a shining example of communal harmony as Hindus used earthen stoves made by Muslims to prepare the holy offering.

Many of the devotees, attired in new colourful clothes, ended their 36-hour fast by floating lighted earthen lamps in rivers and ponds. They also sang folk songs and offered prayers to the sun god.

“At dawn people offered wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the sun god for divine blessings,” said one devotee, Manju Pandey.

Much to the relief of the authorities, the festival passed off peacefully across the state.

Chhath, celebrated six days after Diwali, is dedicated to the sun god.

While it is celebrated by Hindus, many of the ‘chulhas’ or earthen stoves used to cook the holy offering is made by Muslims. Without any hesitation, Hindu customers flock to buy their stoves.

“We put hard labour to shape ‘chulhas’. It is a matter of pride for me… offerings are cooked on earthen stoves made by us,” said Sabina Khatoon, selling the ‘mitti ka chulha’ on the roadside.

The festival, one of the most popular and the biggest in Bihar, saw thousands of devotees, mainly married women, thronging the river banks to take a bath before preparing traditional food.

Devotees cooked simple vegetarian food on the earthen stoves which are considered pure.

Mohammad Usman’s family has been in this business since the last 20 years. His wife and children help him to prepare the special stoves.

“We make the ‘chulhas’ with dedication as they are used for Chhath. We make substantial money too as the devotees don’t bargain much,” said a 40-something Usman who sells stoves at Bailey Road here.

The prices of the stoves range from Rs.50 to Rs.60.

“We begin making the ‘chulhas’ a week ahead of Chhath to sell them on time,” Anjum Bano said.

Sanjay Kumar, a government official, said: “We love to purchase from them as they put hard work into it.

“We are thankful to Muslim families that make and sell these ‘chulhas’,” he said.

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