Chhath Puja, the most celebrated ritual in Central and Northern Indian parts, started with Nahai Khai ritual on October 30. Chhath Puja in 2011 will end on November 2. It is observed as Bhanu Shashti or Surya Shashti vrata in South India. Ritual bath along the river banks of Ganga and some other holy rivers are most preferred deed during Chhath.
The four day Chhath celebrations will start with the `Naha-Kha’ (literally bath and eat) ritual on 30 October 2011. The puja that is known to begin from the fourth day of `Shukla Paksh’ in the `Kartik’ month, according to Hindu calendar, marked the beginning of the Chhath Puja to continue till November 2.
As part of the tradition, on the first day of the Puja, the women eat five different kinds of vegetables. The next day, fast is observed which ends in the evening after consuming rice and jaggery. The fast starts again on the same night which continues for the next day till offering prayers to the setting sun. Meanwhile, the preparations at the ghats were at its peak and the workers were seen decorating the ghats for the D-day. Interestingly, in most of the places, the locals themselves took the initiative to clean the stairs and paint the walls of the ghats.
A huge crowd is expected to turn up on the ghats as the festival is an important one for natives of Bihar and Eastern UP. On 30 October 2011, women will be busy visiting the ghats to ascertain the Puja venues beforehand and the markets will be abuzz with shoppers buying `Puja samagri’, `diyas’, fruits, and winnowing baskets. As per custom, the women desiring a baby boy observe a fast throughout the day and later in the evening offer prayers to the idol of `Chhati Mata’, light `diyas’ and worship the Sun god.”