Chhat Pooja or Surya Sashthi is a day dedicated to the Sun God or Surya Devata. Hindu men and women show their gratitude on this day to the universal source of energy and thus life.
It is a ritual that is celebrated mainly among the people of Bihar, Jharkhand and the inhabitants of the Terai region of Nepal. With the global spread of culture, tradition and population it has now also become a popular festival within the Hindu communities residing in the other states within India and in U.K, U.S.A, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia etc., too.
This four-day ritual is observed with much devotion. Men and women, those who keep a fast, maintain strict abstinence for four days. On the last day of this four-day ritual, the devotees gather to a riverbank with sweets and fruits, before the break of the dawn, and wait for the Sun to rise. With the break of the dawn, the offerings are made to the Lord Surya, the devotees bathe in the water and return with much gaiety. It is a spectacular sight.
After the pooja is completed, men, women and children wear new clothes and distribute sweets among family and friends.
Celebrations of Chhat Pooja have stretched beyond all regional borders. One such example is the Chhat Celebration in Washington, on the banks of the Potomac River.
It was initiated by Kripa Sankar Singh, a software engineer by profession, in 2007. He approached the Loudon County Parks and Recreation Department, in Loudon County, a suburb of Washington on the banks of Potomac River and took necessary permissions to observe the festival there. Soon the news spread, and ever since then hundreds of people of the Indian- American community, from Washington and even outside, gather there for Chhat Pooja.
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