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Odisha celebrates Chhath puja

Bhubaneswar, Oct 27 (Sabyasachi Amitav): The river banks of Mahanadi, Kathajodi, Kuakhai, Brahmani, Koel and other water bodies too soaked in festive fervour with people belonging to Bihari community observing holy Chhath Puja on Thursday.

The puja is observed for four days when rigorous rituals including holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from even drinking water, are observed. Offering prasad and prayers to the rising and setting sun are undertaken. 

Bihari families residing in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela converged on the river banks for the prayer. On the first day, women observe fast after taking holy dip in the river and eat a single meal. The fasting continues throughout the third night to be broken on fourth day after offering prasad to rising Sun. Standing in waist-deep water, they worship the rising and setting sun at 5 pm on October 26 and 5 am on October 27.
 
The puja starts with the ritual of 'Nahai-Khai', in which devotees prepare traditional food after bathing. The second day is 'Kharna', during which devotees observe a day-long fast which ends after sunset.
 
On the third day, the devotees stand in water and offer 'Arghya' to the setting sun. On the final day of the puja, devotees and their friends and relatives assemble at the river bank before sunrise and offer 'Arghya' to the rising sun.

The festival was also celebrated with much fervour and gaiety in others parts of Odisha including Sundergarh, Birmitrapur and Rajgangpur where a good numbers of non-Odias are settled.

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