Chhath festival begins
Hindus in Terai region of Nepal are celebrating the first day of Chhath, an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, on Saturday.
The festival is observed on Kartika Shukala Shashti, which is the sixth day of the month of Kartik in the Nepali calendar.
Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath fesival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and aragh to the setting and rising sun.
People in Terai observe the first of the three-day festival, which is called Arba Arbain or Nahan Khan, by fasting and discarding meat, garlic and onion.
The second day, which is called the Kharana (meaning the reduction of sin), is also observed in a similar manner.
On the third day and main day devotees go to the rivers and ponds, singing folk and devotional songs and offering prayers to the rising sun. The same day the devotees also offer prayers to the setting sun. In Hindu religion, sun is worshipped as a god.
People of Terai celebrate Chhath festival in the capital city too by congregating around ponds and streams in Ranipokhari, Thapathali, Aurighat, Balkhu including other places. nepalnews.com