Biharis in Florida Maintain Their Chhath Heritage

Chhath puja observed by Biharis in Florida.

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Florida, USA: The primeval traditional festival of worshiping the sun commonly known as Chhath was celebrated by Bihari families in Florida in the USA.

The four-day festival started this year on November 11th with ‘Nahay Khay’. A very special traditional vegetarian meal including ‘Kaddu Dal’ were prepared with ultimate purity and consumed as the last proper meal after taking a holy bath by those observing the fast (Vrati) on this auspicious occasion.

This was followed by Kharna or Lohanda next day. After fasting the entire day on Kharna, the Vratis offered Kheer, Roti/Puri (bread) along with banana to Mother Nature after Sunset. It is taken as Prasad by everyone including the Vrati.

The most sacred fasting that includes abstaining from drinking water to pray at the setting and rising Sun better known as “Sajihiya” and “Vihaniya” Arghya was enthusiastically undertaken by the Vraties.

It is one of the few occasions of any religious observance where people worship the setting Sun. This perhaps symbolizes that after the end a new beginning takes place. The local seasonal fruits and other produce along with a specific recipe known as “Thekua” (Prasad) is offered to the setting and rising Sun during “Sajihiya” and “Vihaniya” Arghya respectively on specified time.

This ritual performed with the above prepares Prasad completing the prayer by dropping the milk in front of Surya Narayan. This socio-cultural mega event is believed to bring well-being and prosperity of families, friends, community and all others.

A number of traditional folk songs specifically written for this occasion depicting real life scenarios were sung by the devotees on this occasion. Every one including seniors and kids dressed beautifully in Indian dress for the event especially women with their colorful sari.

Devotees broke the fast after 36 hours to rejoice this holy occasion.

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