Chhath Puja: Vendors doing brisk business as mango wood, bamboo baskets in high demand
Patna : Sale of dry mango wood, bamboo baskets, and earthen stoves surged on Monday, as Bihar's popular Chhath Puja entered its second day - also known as 'Kharna' when devotees prepare 'Kheer' or rice pudding as an offering.
Vegetables like pumpkin and other items including coconut, banana, sugarcane, apple, pineapple, sweet potatoes, water caltrop - used as an offering to the Sun God - are selling like hot cakes.
Shopkeepers and vendors are a happy lot, as they are doing a brisk business without much haggling by customers.
"Dry wood from mango trees, bamboo baskets of different shapes and earthen stoves are essential items for devotees performing Chhath. Without these items, Chhath is not possible," Shanti Devi, a devotee buying an earthen stove from a roadside vendor, said.
Shobha Singh, another devotee, said that only dry wood from mango trees is used as fuel for cooking the traditional meals.
The four-day Chhath Puja began here on Sunday with 'Nahai Khai', with devotees visiting the river banks early in the morning for a ritualistic bath, before preparing a traditional meal of boiled rice and pumpkin.
"We use bamboo baskets of different shapes and earthen stoves to prepare traditional meals and to offer prayers to the Sun God," Krishna Devi, another devotee, told IANS at the Collectorate Ghat here in Patna.
She said that different shapes of bamboo baskets, locally known as 'soop', are being used by the devotees for Chhath.
A Chhath devotee is called a 'vrati' - one who performs the Chhath prayers and follows the strict rituals.
During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees traditionally offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the Sun God.
Colourful idols of the Sun God riding his chariot with seven horses, a new attraction this year, are being sold on the river banks.
The district administration, along with dozens of voluntary organisations, is busy making arrangements to manage the crowds and keep the area around the river banks clean.
District authorities have declared dozens of 'ghats' or river banks in Patna district unsafe and dangerous. People have been urged to use only safe 'ghats' for the ritualistic bathing.
There are over 80 'ghats' along the Ganges in Patna.
"But some are in a bad condition," an official said.
"All District Magistrates have been directed by (Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar to accord top priority to the safety of the devotees," the official said.
In Patna, nearly 5,000 policemen have been deployed to ensure law and order.
On Tuesday evening, the devotees will offer prayers called 'arghya' to the setting Sun and follow this up by offering prayers to the rising Sun on Wednesday morning.