Lalu to celebrate Chhath Puja in Patna, not Mumbai

November 2nd, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 2 (IANS) Railways Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, former Bihar chief minister, will perform Chhath Puja in Patna and not in Mumbai as announced earlier this year, a party official said Sunday.“Lalu ji and Rabri Devi will celebrate Chhath puja in Patna. There is no plan to perform Chhath in Mumbai at all,” Shayam Rajak, national spokesperson of Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal said here Sunday.

Rajak, who is considered close to Lalu and Rabri, said that both will perform Chhath Puja at their official residence in the high security zone here.

RJD officials said that Lalu and Rabri decided to celebrate Chhath in Patna and postponed plans to perform the puja in Mumbai in the wake of tension following attacks on north Indians in Maharashtra by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists.

In February this year, Lalu Prasad defied the MNS and said he would perform the Chhath Puja in Mumbai.

“If possible, I will go to Mumbai to perform Chhath Puja,” he had said.

His remark had evoked sharp reactions from the MNS as also Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

Millions of people across Bihar marked the festival of Chhath with fasting and singing traditional songs. Offerings are also made to the setting sun.

The four-day long Chhath began Sunday when devotees took dip in the rivers, a tradition known as ‘nahai khai’.

It is followed by the ritual of ‘kharna’ Monday when sweet dishes are prepared before the main offerings - “argya” - to the Sun god on the banks of rivers or water bodies Tuesday.

Married women observe a fast of 36 hours during the course of the festival. Devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts to the sun.

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.

Colourful idols of the Sun god riding his chariot with seven horses, a new attraction this year, were sold on riverbanks, which were cleaned up and decorated by the devotees.

The administration along with dozens of voluntary organisations was working round-the-clock to clean the residential localities and roads leading up to the banks of rivers and water bodies.

Over the years, Chhath has become closely identified with Bihar - comparable to Bihu of Assam, Pongal of Tamil Nadu and the Ganesh festival of Maharashtra.

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