Hundreds celebrate Chhath in Bihar jails

November 4th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 4 (IANS) Hundreds of prisoners, including women undertrials, have been performing Chhath puja inside the jail premises across Bihar, observing fasts and offering prayers to the sun god, officials said Tuesday. Nearly 30 prisoners, including 22 women, in Patna’s Beur jail participated in the festivities and prison authorities said they had given new clothes to the inmates.

The prisoners have also been provided the materials needed for the rituals associated with the festival - like fruits, rice, sugar and coconuts.

“We have provided basic items to those performing Chhath inside jail,” Beur jail superintendent Omprakash Gupta told IANS.

He added that the prisoners could also receive puja materials from their relatives during the four-day festival.

Similarly, about 120 prisoners, including 50 women, have been performing Chhath puja in Bhagalpur central jail. Inmates in prisons in Gaya, Buxar, Nawada, Aurangabad and Muzaffarpur have also been offering prayers on the festive occasion.

A Bhagalpur jail official said they too were extending all help to inmates performing the religious rituals. He added that devotees in the jail were observing a 36-hour fast since Monday night as per rituals.

The four-day long Chhath began Sunday when devotees across the state bathed in the rivers, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’. Offerings were made to the sun god on the banks of rivers or water bodies Tuesday. Devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.

“Special arrangements of water bodies have been made inside jail premises to enable the prisoners to offer prayers to the setting and rising Sun Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to mark the end of Chhath,” Gupta added.

Chhath is celebrated by Hindus six days after Diwali, the festival of light. It is a festival associated with faith, purity and devotion to the sun god. Married women observe fasts during the course of the festival.

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