Chhath festival begins today

KATHMANDU: Chhath, the festival in which devotees worship the Sun God, has begun today.

During the four-day festival, celebrated especially by people from Mithila region, devotees worship and make offerings to the rising and setting sun wishing for prosperity, happiness and longevity of their family members.

During this festival, various delicacies are prepared. Likewise, purity and cleanliness are strictly maintained.

According to Dhirendra Premarshi, cultural expert and Academic Assembly member at Nepal Academy, the festival begins on Tuesday marked by Nahai Khai, Kharna, Sandhya Argha and Bihani Argha rituals respectively on the four following days before the festival concludes on Friday. The name of the festival symbolises its day of occurrence, as ‘Chhath’ refers to ‘sixth’.

Premarshi said there existed different myths as to how Chhath began. “People started celebrating Chhath since ancient times, showing gratitude to the Sun God for sustaining life on Earth. Each activity of this festival represents a relationship between human life and nature, “he said.

During Chhath,  the sun is worshipped as the protector of life. Devotees worship first the setting sun and then the rising sun. Water has a special place in nature as well as in Chhath celebrations.

Cleaning up water sources during this festival also contribute to nature conservation and sustenance of healthy life.

The festival also attempts to end caste discrimination and envisages bringing social harmony among peoples of different caste groups.

Likewise, Chhath gives priority to sand and bamboo-made materials, which reflect the main occupation of people with low economic status and those from the so-called ‘low castes’.

According to Premarshi, the festival also highlights the significance of domestic products. “Around 70 different home-made products are used during Chhath celebrations.”