by Madhurima Ghosh

Chhath Puja was celebrated with much gaiety and reverence in the region between the auspicious dates
of 17 th – 20 th November 2023. It culminated in the morning today with a sacred offering, the Usha
Arghya, made to the rising sun.
The festival is celebrated with unwavering devotion by a large cross-section of people across the states
of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and parts of UP and Nepal. Deeply entrenched in
traditional rituals, Chhath Puja is a grand spectacle of faith and fervour for its followers from Madhupur
to Mumbai. Prayers are offered to the Sun God (Surya Dev) along with Chhathi Maiya.
Kolkata that has a large population of inhabitants from the Hindi heartland witnessed the grand
unfolding of the Puja with Bhojpuri devotional and folk music being played and local markets flooded
with seasonal fruits on sale for offerings.
Chhath Puja, like most Indian festivals, is symbolic of sumptuous Prasad and food. For followers and
non-followers, devotional or otherwise, the thekua is a not-to-be-missed treat. A Puja Special this
deliciously crisp Indian cookie is a deep-fried heavenly bit of whole wheat flour, jaggery, pure ghee, ripe
banana pulp, coconut seasoned with an assortment of spices including fennel seeds. It is wholesome
and lasts for weeks when stored right. Beautifully designed, thekuas are offered to the Sun God as a sign
of devotion and reverence and then distributed among family and friends.
The Puja Thali carries an assortment of items that have deep cultural significance. Apart from the
thekua, it has jaggery, fruits like sugarcane and banana, rasiya (juice of sugarcane), kheer, rice and daal,
sweets that include laddoos and pedas. The Chhath Puja thali is believed to be a fulsome representation
of prosperity and abundance offered by the devotee to the Sun God.
Devotees in the city, like elsewhere in the world, gathered at water bodies and Hooghly ghats to offer
their prayers.
Says Archana Singh, born and raised in Kolkata,” As in previous years, I invited my childhood friends over
with their children to take part in Chhath Puja with my family and me. Apart from the religious
significance, it is a time for us to reconnect with each other amid our busy schedules.”
“We all gorged on the fabulous festival offerings after Puja!” adds Priyanka, her friend, with a laugh.

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