Photographer's Note

This is Chhatt Puja at Benaras. There are many festivals that are celebrated by the Hindus of Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and many other states of India. The Hindu festival of Chhatt is unique to the northern region of India. Chhatt is dedicated to the worship of the Sun God and therefore, is also known as Surya Shashti. Chhatt is celebrated as thanks to the Sun for providing the necessities of life on earth, and also for fulfilling particular wishes. The word Chhatt denotes the number six and thus the festival begins on the sixth day of the Hindu month of Kartik in the Hindu lunar calendar, which falls in late October and November. Chhath being mainly a Bihari festival, wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstinence and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for four days. During this period, the worshiper observes ritual purity, and sleeps on the floor on a single blanket. The main worshipers, called Parvaitin (from Sanskrit parv, meaning 'occasion' or 'festival'), are usually women. However, a large number of men also are the main worshiper. The parvaitin pray for the well-being of their family, for prosperity and offspring. They usually can perform Chhath only if it is passed on to them from their older generation. However, once they decide to do it, it becomes their duty to perform it every year, the festival being skipped only if there happens to be a death in the family that year.
This photo was taken at Benaras on the river Ganges in the Rajendraprasad Ghat.

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Additional Photos by Sayan Chakrabarti (sayan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 559 W: 76 N: 686] (2617)
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