Kathmandu, Nov 17: Preparations have started for organising the Chhath puja at different places of the federal capital.
Construction of places for the Chhath worship have been started at 21 locations in Kathmandu, including at Gaurighat, Kamalpokhari, Bishnumati, Nakhkhu, Gahanapokhari and Kupandol.
Anil Singh, Chair of Gaurighat Chhath Puja Management Committee, said all the preparations for the Chhath puja would be over until Saturday. He said works like cleaning the banks of the Bagmati river at Gaurighat, removing weeds and trash, installing tents, tarpaulin, lights and the statue of goddess Chhatimata are ongoing.
The river banks, ponds and lakes are decorated in a special way for the Chhath festival.
Special ghats are prepared for performing the different rituals associated with the religious and cultural festival.
Chhath festival is observed from Kattik Shukla Chaturthi (the fourth day of the waxing moon in the Nepali month Kartik as per the lunar calendar) to Kartik Shukla Saptami (the seventh day of the waxing moon in the Nepali month Kartik as per the lunar calendar).
This year Chhath begins today. Chhath is a festival during which the Sun god is worshipped by making various offerings. This festival is also linked with an episode in the Hindu epic Mahabharata in which the five Pandava brothers along with Draupadi worship the Sun god wishing for the success of their life in exile in which they have to remain incognito.
It is stated in this epic that the Pandavas and Draupadi lived in the palace of the king Birat. As per the legend, Chhath started to be celebrated from that time on.
According to the Surya Purana, a Hindu scripture, it was Anusuya, the wife of the sage Aatri, who observed the Chhath fasting first and as a result she was blessed with luck and unremitting love of her husband. There is a religious belief that the Chhath started to be marked from that time onwards.
It is believed that the person observing a fasting during the Chhath festival will be freed from suffering and poverty. On the day of Kattik Shukla Chaturthi, the people observing the fast take a bath and eat only a single meal.
The next day or on Kattik Shukla Panchami, those observing the fasting prepare kharana or rice pudding mixed with molasses, offer it to Chhatimata, the goddess, and partake it as prasad or auspicious item. They also eat fruits and abstain from food items containing salt.
On the main day of the Chhath festival, Kattik Shukla Shasti, the sixth day of the waxing moon in the Nepali month Kartik as per the lunar calendar, those observing the Chhath fasting worship the setting sun by offering the arghya. They observe a complete fasting and even do not drink water on this day. The Chhath fasting and worship is concluded the next day by making the arghya offerings to the rising sun.
There is a religious belief that skin diseases can be kept at bay if one makes the arghya offering to the rising sun by performing worship to the sun god duly following the rituals during the bright half in the month of Kartik as per the lunar calendar.
Chhath, which used to be observed in some places of Tarai-Madhes only before, is nowadays observed in many places across the country and has assumed the form of a national festival. These days it is celebrated in the hilly region along with Tarai-Madhes.