The ancient Hindu festival Chhath, dedicated to worshipping Sun, which attracts millions of people in India, has reached the American shores too.
More than 200 people mostly Indian American had gathered on Tuesday evening on the banks of the historic Potomac river in Sterling, Virginia –
a suburb of Washington – as four fasting women took a dip in the water and performed pooja of the Sun God.
"This is our third year, but the largest gathering so far," Kripa S Singh, a software engineer from Patna, said, as his wife Anita performed the pooja on the banks of Potomac river.
"More people are expected in the morning," said Singh, who started the Chhath pooja alone on the river banks in 2009.
Some of the attendees came even from faraway places like New Jersey.
The pooja is being performed by Govind Jha, a priest at the local Rajdhani Mandir, a temple in Virginia.
It all started some four years ago, when Anita was asked by her mother-in-law in Bihar to do Chhath pooja come what may as this is something they could not afford to miss.
Singh inquired among his friends and other Indian American community leaders if anyone here performed the Chhath Pooja.
They found that people, if any, did it inside their homes or at the most in a makeshift plastic tub full of water.
While he was doing all this research and inquiry, Singh and some of his friends went for a picnic on the banks of the Potomac River in Loudon County, a suburb of Washington DC.
The concrete boat ramp there, Singh said, gave him the idea that this place could be good for performing Chhath Pooja in the real way with all the traditional and religious rituals.
Soon he approached the Loudon County Parks and Recreation Department with the details and sought if he can get the necessary permission to do the Chhath pooja on the river banks.
"Permission was granted," he said.
But in 2009, the first year, Anita was the only one to do the pooja.
"This year we are four. But more important is that there were more than 200 people watching this festival Tuesday evening," he said.
"This is a unique effort to maintain our tradition and culture far away from other motherland," said Kumar Singh, an eminent Indian American community leader in Greater Washington Metropolitan Area.
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