Photo essay: On the last day of Chhath Puja, worshipers offer Usha Arghya in the holy city of Varanasi – Gaonconnection
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Today, November 11, is the fourth and last day of Chhath Puja. There is a tradition of offering Usha Arghya (morning offering to the deity) to the rising Sun while standing in a body of water, be it a river, a pond or an artificial water reservoir. After offering Arghya, people sit on the ghat and offer their prayers, then the prasad is distributed to the people around.
The Chhath festival involves several rituals considered very strict, including 36 hours nirjala – fasting without a drop of water. As part of the festival, worshipers gather and bathe in rivers, ponds and bodies of water braving the cold. They also observe a strict fast during the four days of festivities.
The four-day festival is celebrated to worship the Sun God and Chhathi Maiya. The festival is widely celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, the border areas of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal as well.
Also read: In photos: From Nahay Khay to arghaya – how the people of Bihar and Jharkhand celebrate Chhath Puja
Some people suggest arghya in a brass soop, while others use a bamboo soop; both are considered pure. The nicely decorated soops with the candy, water, milk and earthen lamps, are taken to a body of water, where the vrati (the fasting person), dressed in new clothes, stands in the water up to his knees and offers the arghya under the sun. The festivities end with a havan.
Yesterday, the third day of Chhath, which is considered the main day of the festival, the devotees prepared khasar (small balls made from rice flour and jaggery) and thekua (made of jaggery and wheat flour) to offer to the deity. Chhath daala is the offering of seasonal fruits and vegetables to the deity.
Also read: Chhath Puja: From thekua to ole curry, here are six easy cooking recipes
Gaon connection visited AhilyaBai Ghat and Dashashwamedh Ghat, the main ghat of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh – the spiritual capital of India – to understand how the devotees offered Usha Arghya in the Sun on the banks of the Ganges this morning.
Come, soak up the spirit of Chhath!