BHADRAPUR, Jhapa, Nov 17: Chhath, a festival of worshipping the setting and rising sun formally began here from Saturday.
Hindus mainly in Terai region of Nepal celebrate the Chhath, an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God of Surya with enthusiasm.
Although the main day of the festival is observed on Kartika Shukla Shashti, the sixth day of the month of Kartik in the Nepali calendar, it is celebrated for four days.
Chhath Pooja is performed in order to thank the God Sun 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.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days.
The Chhath rituals include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Bratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad and argha to the setting and rising sun.
On the first day of the festival, devotes take holy bathing and get prepared for the next day´s fasting.
The third day is the most important day of the festival as on the eve of this day, the parvaitins (who observe Chhath fasting) go to riverbanks nearby and offer argha to the setting sun.
On the final day of the festival, argha is offered to the rising sun with rituals. The festival ends with the breaking of the fast by the parvaitina and friends visiting the houses of the devotees to receive the prashad.
The Chhath festival which is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god until few years back used to be a festival specially celebrated in the Tarai.
But this festival is fast catching up in Kathmandu and the hilly and mountainous regions of the country and it has become a common festival of the Nepalis.
In the capital, places like Ranipokhari, Kamalpokhari, and the bank of the Bagmati River near Thapathali have been lavishly decorated and lit up for the Chhath rituals.