Mumbai: Thousands across city take part in Chhath Puja rituals

At Juhu, the crowd was visible even before one could reach the beach where thousands had gathered for the Puja.

Ashutosh M ShuklaUpdated: Sunday, October 30, 2022, 11:42 PM IST
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At Juhu, the crowd was visible even before one could reach the beach where thousands had gathered for the Puja. | FPJ

Thousands of devotees conducted Chhath Puja on Sunday close to water bodies or by making arrangements wherein they could immerse themselves in water. Sunday was the first of the four days of Chhath Puja which takes place in an open area. The first two days are mostly observed at home with prayers and austerity.

At Juhu, the crowd was visible even before one could reach the beach where thousands had gathered for the Puja. Sugarcanes fashioned into tripod stands could be seen a few feet apart, dug into the sand where people made a base for their puja. “This puja is mainly of making offerings to the Sun God. When we arrive, we do some puja here and then offer Aragh to the Sun God. Pindi is made of Chhath Mata. It is a tradition running down from generations that we are keeping intact,” said Sandeep Yadav who had come from Virar. They made pindis (raised sand) of Chhath Mata and lit diyas before getting into the seawater to offer aragh (offerings) to the Sun God. Aragh is a winnowing basket with different types of fruits and some homemade delicacies that is carried on the head while getting into the sea to offer the same to the Sun God.

“One is expected to put as many fruits as one can while offering. When we go to the sea and show this to the Sun God. Water, milk and flowers are offered while the fruits are brought back as prasad. In the morning, when we will take the aragh, some more fruits will be kept,” said Kamala Devi who had offered her aragh and was guarding her place with her family where they had kept the winnowing basket with offerings.

Kamala Devi, Yadav and many others gathered had come prepared to stay at the beach all night so that they could make an offering to the rising Sun. “On Sunday evening, we offer aragh to the setting Sun and on Monday morning to the rising Sun. Only after that is offered do we leave for home and have something to eat. On Monday morning, we will take a dip in the seawater and then offer aragh to Sun God,” said Usha Devi Mahato, a resident of Dahisar who was observing a nirjala fast. A nirjala fast is observed for 36 hours without even consuming water and starts from Saturday evening.

Some had other means of impressing the Sun God. They completed their journey to the beach by lying down flat, getting up and again lying down on the road with every step they took, instead of walking. “It is mainly done after fulfillment of a wish,” said Yadav.

Many women prayed for the betterment of their children, husband and family. Chhath Mata, also known as Shashti Devi is prayed to for the boon of children. Clad in traditional sarees and dresses, women had a distinct way of applying vermillion. Many applied it from the tip of their nose.

Some who stayed close by said that they would go home and come with a new aragh for Monday morning rituals. “Tomorrow we will get a new aragh. Since we cannot stay, we come back again in the morning because we live close by,” said Nisha Singh who lives in Andheri and has been coming to Juhi beach for the puja for the past six years.

“All the fruits will be distributed among family and friends after Monday's final prayers. Right now we neither eat or distribute. All that is done after the final prayers,” said Awadhesh Singh, another devotee from Andheri.

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