By Elsie Gabriel

“Chhath Puja”, the biggest festival of the Poorvanchali was  celebrated on Friday with traditional enthusiasm and fervour as the devotees prepare to go to Powai lake to offer prayers to the setting sun in the evening. A main festival in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, Chhath denotes the number six and thus the 4-day event begins on the sixth day of  Kartik which is usually in October-November every year.

Says Naseem Khan, the Guardian Minister of the suburbs and MLA here at Powai, “Elaborate arrangements were made to ensure a trouble free congregation at both the ghats for the Chhath Puja at Powai lake here in Mumbai.This is a festival of truth, non-violence, forgiveness and compassion, it is dedicated to Lord Surya -the Sun God, Agni -the Fire God and Kartikeya.”

Chhath is the only time when the setting sun as opposed to its rising is celebrated for its glory as the cycle of birth starts with death.Voices Roy Mani resident of Powai and one of the organizers, “People fast for the whole day and in the evening they offer Chhath Sandhya Arghya to the setting Sun by standing in knee-deep water.Thousands of lit lamps with many hands offering Arghya makes it a delightful sight at Powai!”

Kheer, Puya’s, sweets and fruits are offered to deities and then the entire family shares it. Chhath also connects to the folk and rural roots of worshippers. The folk songs sung on the eve of Chhath are mainly in Maithili, Magadhi and Bhojpuri dialects that mirror the culture and social mores of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the terai regions.

According to Hindu mythology, Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas has a great power to cure any type of disease, including leprosy. She used to worship the Sun with utmost devotion. As a commemoration of Draupadi, it is performed in the form of Chhat puja.

Powai Lake witnessed the granduer of the The Chhath Puja on Friday 12th November 2010 . Many joined in and celebrated the puja rites, and powaizens discovered a whole new world of our Indian festivals , right here in Powai.