JANAKPUR, Nov 19: Chaath, one of the major festivals celebrated by the Maithili community in the Tarai, is gradually cutting across cultures and communities.
Chhath, the sun worshipping festival which began from Saturday this year, holds special significance for the Maithili community. Maithili women fast during the festival praying for the longevity and prosperity of family members. But of late, the festival has also been bridging the communal divide as other communities have also started celebrating the festival with equal gusto.
Govinda Thapaliya, who belongs to the pahadi community, said he started observing Chhath festival since last year. Thapaliaya said observing Chhath along with his neighbors from the Maithili community gives him a sense of communal harmony. Taslim Miya Kadari, a Muslim of Sabaila VDC in Dhanusha has also started observing the Chhath festival from this year.
With increasing popularity of the festival, people believe that the festival is now playing a significant role in instilling a sense of unity among the people of different creed, caste and communities.
The festival is observed over a period of four days beginning from the fourth day of the new moon ending on the seventh day in the month of Kartik as per the lunar calendar. As per the tradition, devotees eat pure vegetarian food after taking a dip in a holy river or pond on the first day.
On the second day, the devotees observe fast for the entire day and eat pudding, sweets and vegetables at night. On the third day, devotees offer prayers to the setting sun and conclude their fasting on the fourth day offering prayers to the rising sun.
The Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun god is observed to express gratitude to the heavenly body for sustaining life on earth.