This year the month of October has been full of festivals. The entire country is just struggling with the pollution created by the burning of crackers during Deepawali festival, It is not yet over as the after effects are showing their signs. In spite of the ban on sale of fire crackers the effect was not felt in the Delhi NCR.

Now the Most Eco Friendly Hindu festival namely Chhath has already on. This is a 4 day festival where mother earth is worshipped in a most pious way. Historically this festival is native to Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh. This is also observed in bordering area of Nepal as some of the people have their origin in Bihar. In the present times as people from Bihar have migrated to most of the other states they do celebrate this festival in the area where they reside. One can feel its presence as most of the water bodies in the NCR Delhi are being cleaned so that the devotees can perform pooja properly.

It is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Surya (SUN) and his wife USHA to thank them for supporting life on earth and to seek their protection and blessings for all the living beings. I came to know about this festival during my posting as Additional Commissioner of Customs Indo -Nepal Border at Muzaffarpur (Bihar ) in the year 1995,where I remained for a period of about 3 years. I was blessed to have a first hand knowledge about the complexities as well as the importance of this festival.

Mainly the fasting is observed by women for the well being of the sons and happiness of the family . Now even some men have started observing when a women isnot in a position to observe the same. The first day of fasting is called Nahay Khay.That is to say after having a dip in the Holy Ganga or any other river , women having fast takes a single meal on this day. The second day is known as Kharana . On this day fasting without water is observed from sunrise to sunset. After offering food to the God Sun the fast is broken and the fasting for the third day continues after having Prasad on 2nd Day. The 3rd day is the most important and most crucial as one can not have even a drop of water. In the evening Arghya is offered to the setting sun. The fast continues for the whole night. On the 4th day the fast is broken after offering Arghya to the rising sun . That is to say the fast is for MINIMUM 36 HOURS without having a drop of water.

Is there any fast more arduous and strict than this ? To my knowledge ..No. As far as I can understand is that this festival is for the purification of body,mind and soul. Secondly this is the only festival where both the rising sun as well as the setting sun gets due importance. Scientifically it has been proved that sun rays refracting through liberating water are a vital source of vigour and beauty. The rituals are observed over a period of 4 days such as bathing ,fasting ,abstaining from drinking water for a very long period ,standing in water for long hours and offering Prasad and Arghya to the rising and setting sun. This festival shows the true spirit of worship with ZERO threat to the environment. But of late, entering into the wildlife sanctuaries and parks for observing the festival and burning of crackers is a disturbing factor.

I remember during 2015 Chhath Pooja a large number of vehicles entered into the Okhla Bird Sanctuary .Noida ,Uttar Pradesh ,during this festival and disturbed the tranquility of the place .As per law the entry of the vehicles is banned and only auto rickshaw or a cycle is allowed for bird watching . Even I happen to see the people accompanying devotees burning crackers in the early morning.

It is a beautiful festival as it revolves around nature. All things used in the rituals are obtained naturally.

About Vinod Goel

He joined Customs & Central Excise service in 1982. As a civil servant, his job takes him to various parts of India, which gave him an opportunity to capture our wild heritage, through his camera. His passion for wildlife photography started in 2004 when he was posted at Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and this passion continues till today.