Hundreds of Indian Americans gathered at river banks, lakes and makeshift water bodies across the United States to worship the Sun God as they celebrated the popular Hindu festival of Chhath Puja on Sunday. Several states across the US, including California, Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, North Carolina and Washington DC, celebrated the festival.
The Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America (BJANA) organized the Chhath Puja across the country including at Thompson Park, Monroe, New Jersey. Over 1,500 members attended this celebration in New Jersey.
BJANA started organizing the community-wide Chhath puja five years ago, which has now become their signature event.
“We started celebrating Chhath puja in the US more than 5 years ago, and with each year diaspora members got attached in large numbers and today we are seeing more than 1500 devotees celebrating here,” said Vandana Vatsyan a community member of BJANA.
Chhath Puja is one of the most auspicious festivals in Bihar, Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The festival is dedicated to “Surya Bhagwaan” (Sun God), which people believe sustains life on the earth. The puja is also performed to seek blessings from Surya to live a long, healthy, prosperous life.
In New Jersey, the event was attended by Beeda Mastan Rao Yadav, Rajyasabha Member of parliament. ” It’s pleasantly surprising to see our brothers who have roots in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh celebrating the festival of Chhath in such a respectful and traditional way. I am glad I could be a part of this celebration here in the US,” Yadav told ANI.
While last two years people gathered in small numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year saw scores of devotees participate in the celebrations with their families and friends.
Chhath is primarily celebrated in India’s states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. During the festival, people fast, bathe in rivers and offer prayers to thank the Sun God for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and fulfilling wishes.
At most places in the US, community members gathered at one place to cook food and ‘prasad’ for the offerings. “More than three hundred people gathered for the celebrations in Massachusetts. For the morning festivities we expect more than 500 people from the community despite it being a working day for most of us,” said Rajesh Singh from Massachusetts.