Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chhat Puja- Worship of Sun God

On 4th of November the day of chhat festival all roads in Mumbai lead to the Arabian Sea for the migrant people of Bihar. Chhat puja is the most auspicious and revered festival for the Biharis. Wherever they are, on any part of the world, on this day the Biharis throng the nearest sea shore, and river to pray to the Sun God. The women folk are draped in colourful sarees with red vermillion smeared on their forehead and carry plate full of fruits meant as offering to the Sun God.
This year in Mumbai chhat festival was celebrated with equal fervor and pomp by tens of thousands of Biharis who converged on the soft sand of Juhu Chowpatty. The Biharis, come to the city in search of green pastures. They are mostly self employed working as milk vendors, carpenters, newspaper sellers, taxi drivers and bhel puriwalas.
I was told that the crowd this year was less compared to last years as some of them preferred to stay back due to the atmosphere of fear prevalent in the city. Lately there is backlash against the north Indians and the Biharis were at the receiving ends at the hands of the local rightist parties propagating Sons of the soil theory. They are protesting against the influx of migrants coming from North India to Mumbai city in search of jobs thus threatening the livelihood of locals. When I spoke to some of the Biharis, they were brave enough to remain unfazed with the recent controversy and hoped that better sense would prevail and they would get accepted in the city. According to the Indian constitution people of India is free to travel and stay in any part of India.
On the Chhat festival I was told that it is celebrated six days after Diwali, another prominent festival of lights celebrated by the Hindu population of India. The Biharis consider the Sun God as most powerful and believe that seeking his blessing acts as fulfillment of their wishes. One of the legendendary story is that Lord Rama on completion of fourteen year of penance in the forest returns with his wife Janaki to Ayodhya to be crowned as a king. Lord Rama prays to the Sun God to bless the couple with a prodigious son. As a result they were blessed with twins named Luv and kush. The Biharis fast on this day and spend the evening on the Sea shore conduct pujas and make offering to Sun God. After the Sun sets the devotees spend the whole night on sea shore braving the chill wind, wait for next day’s sun rise to once again worship the Sun God.

For images on Chhat Puja, click here-

No comments: