Preparations under way for Chhath amid crisisChhath, a major Hindu festival dedicated to the sun god, is going to start today and will continue for four days.
Chhath, a major Hindu festival dedicated to the sun god, is going to start today and will continue for four days.
The festival is celebrated especially by Tharus, Madhesi people in all the major parts of the country, including the Kathmandu valley. During the festival, devotees take holy dip to purify their body and offer curd to the sun god at shrines set up on the banks of ponds, lakes and rivers. Likewise, they also offer bananas, oranges and coconut and also local sweet called thekuwa to the setting sun. In Hindu mythology, the sun is considered the god of energy and of the life force. The festival is celebrated for better health and prosperity of family members, friends and senior citizens.
However, people preparing for the festival this year are worried as the ongoing Tarai protests, death of around four dozen protesters, India’s unofficial trade embargo and the subsequent fuel crisis has thrown life out of gear across the country.
Birbal Sah, who runs a barber’s shop in Koteshwor, said he is not going to his village in Janakpur to celebrate the festival this year. “I didn’t get a bus ticket even though I was ready to pay double amount for fare,” he said.
Like Sah, hundreds of students, teachers, government officials and laborers are unable to visit their family members in Tarai and celebrate the festival.
Meanwhile, people in the Tarai itself are not in a festive mood. Fifty-three-year old Imriti Yadav from Birgunj in Shreepur said prices of materials used for puja have gone high due to the ongoing fuel shortage. “We had never gone through such crisis anytime before,” she told the Post.
“Almost all good for ritual offerings come from India but due to the blockade and price, poor people like us can’t afford it to buy them,” Yadav said, adding that death of people in recent Tarai protests is another factor ruining the festive mood this year. Stating that seven people were killed Birjung alone, she urged the government to immediately resolve the political crisis.
In Birgunj, people celebrate the festival on the banks of Godawaripokhari and other rivers in the area. In Janakpur, Dhanussagar and other lakes and rivers draw thousands of devotees during the festival.
In Kathmandu too, people who have been celebrating the festival for years are going through hard times this year due to shortage of essential materials. Munni Devi Rauniyar, 63, of Soaltee Mode, who has been celebrating the festival in the Capital for over five decades, said she is unable to purchase all items required for Chhath
rituals this due to the ongoing crisis. “It also difficult to take those materials to river banks due to the fuel crisis,” she said.
Even the Ranipokhari area, which used to be illuminated with glittering lights in the previous occasions, looks deserted this year. The Yamaleshwor temple that lies in the middle of the pond is has been damaged by the April 25 earthquake.