On Monday morning at 5am, Meena Gupta stepped outside her Thane home and headed to a nearby lake. For one-and-half-hour till sunrise, Gupta stood in knee-deep water to worship the rising sun and dipped the offerings comprising different kinds of fruits before returning home.
Like Gupta, north Indians across Mumbai celebrated Chhath puja, which is also known as the Dala Chhath, before sunrise on Monday. In Mumbai, large scale celebrations were seen on Juhu Beach and Dadar Chowpatty.
Chhath puja is celebrated to worship the morning dawn and the festival continues for four days. The ritual starts with a holy bath and sun worship and does not involve any priests.
North Indians in the city began their fast on Sunday morning, right after the holy bath.
“I started observing fast from Sunday evening and ate vegetables cooked without salt for dinner. During the fasting period, we can’t cook food in utensils used for non-vegetarian food,” said Gupta. “The fast ends in the morning after the puja.”
“From the first day of Diwali and till the fast ends, their diet is without garlic and onions,” said Prabhu Yadav, an Andheri resident, who performed Chhath puja at Juhu Beach.
“We put cotton in our ears during the fast. “If we hear any noise while having food, then we cannot have food further,” said Kuldeep Mishra, a Juhu resident.
Eighteen-year-old Ranjan Kumar Sahani from Vashi who performed the puja at the Palm Beach Road pond said, “Sun god has always granted my wishes and since I moved to Navi Mumbai for work, I have been performing the puja here. It’s organised in such an appropriate and traditional way here that it reminds me of my family in Bihar.”