Muslim Wire

Muslims join Hindus to celebrate Chhath in Bihar

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 24, 2009

In a show of brotherhood and communal harmony, Muslims in Bihar joined Hindus in celebrating Chhath, the state’s biggest religious festival. While many Muslims are observing a fast and performing the ritual, others are helping their Hindu neighbours by cleaning river banks, streets and distributing coconuts and fruits for the puja.

Many Muslims have volunteered to clean up the banks of rivers, ponds and other water bodies and streets for the festive occasion, while some have made special hand-made earthen chulhas (stoves) for the devotees. Some Muslims have distributed fruits and new clothes to poor Hindus for performing Chhath.

The popular four-day Chhath festival – symbolising purity – comes after Diwali. It began Thursday when devotees across the state bathed in a ritual called Nahai Khai followed by Kharna Friday and first Arghya (offering prayers to the setting sun) Saturday. As per tradition, offerings of wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts were made to the sun god. The festival will conclude Sunday morning with another Arghya to the rising sun.

Tara Khatoon, in her 30s, a resident of Bakho under Phulwarisharief police station, 10 km from Patna, is performing Chhath like millions of Hindu women.

Khatoon’s husband Kallu Bakho is helping her with the ritual. ‘I am performing Chhath this year as my only son got well after I prayed at the bank of the river last year for his health during Chhath,’ Khatoon, who is also fasting as per tradition, told IANS here Saturday.

She said her son’s recovery enthused her to perform the puja this year too. ‘My son had not got well despite treatment by several doctors,’ said Khatoon, an illiterate, adding, ‘God is one but people pray differently’.

Hasan Imam, in his 40s, a theatre activist who is a resident of Paraudha village in Begusarai district, said his family has been performing Chhath for decades.

‘We are not alone, there are several Muslim families in Begusarai and neighbouring districts of Samastipur, Khagaria, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur who observe the festival,’ he said.

He said his family observes the rituals and worships the sun god for a long life and better health.

Mohammed Hussain of Rasoolpur has been celebrating the festival regularly. ‘We have been celebrating Chhath for nearly five decades. It gives us immense happiness to observe the fast and rituals,’ Hussain said. ‘We are proud to be Muslims, we keep rozas (month-long fast during Ramzan) and celebrate Eid and wear the traditional Muslim skull cap too,’ Hussain said.

Mohammad Nazir of the same village said his family also worships the sun god at a nearby pond. ‘The sun is the same for all, so why should we not pay our respects to it?’ he said.

In Patna, dozens of Muslim women cleaned the banks of river Ganga at Danapur with brooms. Likewise, many Muslim men cleaned the streets in different localities here over the last two days.

Mohd Kamal Perwez of Sabzi Bagh locality here distributed coconuts, fruits and other puja material among Hindu devotees to perform Chhath. ‘Many Muslim businessmen also donated money to put up marquees for the Hindu devotees,’ he said.

‘We have helped to decorate the streets and are distributing milk and agarbatti (incense sticks) to devotees on the river banks,’ Mohd Naushad Hashmi, another resident of Sabzi Bagh, said.

Makoon Miyan, along with his wife and kids, made earthen chulhas and sold them at Rs.35-45 each. ‘We made the earthen chulhas with great care since they are being used for Chhath. We make substantial money too as devotees don’t bargain much,’ he said.

The festival concludes Sunday.

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