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Chhath festivities begin in Bihar

PTI | Patna |

The four-day long Chhath festivities, which is celebrated with immense fervour across Bihar, began today with the ‘Nahai Khai’ ritual amid large-scale arrangements for averting any untoward incident.

Millions of devotees across the state observed the ‘Nahai Khai’ ritual by taking a holy dip in waterbodies followed by a meal comprising lentil soup, boiled pumpkin and rice.

This will be followed by ‘Kharna’ tomorrow when after a day-long fast and a bath in the evening, those observing the austerities will consume ‘prasad’ comprising rice pudding made with jaggery, ‘pittha’ – a sweet made of flour and rotis smeared with ghee.

Thereafter, will begin a 36-hour ‘nirjala’ fast when people are not supposed to take even a sip of water.

During the ‘nirjala’ fast, ‘arghya’ worship will be offered to the Sun god on Thursday evening and again on Friday morning, when the fast will come to an end, the festivities will conclude.

Elaborate arrangements have been made by the state government along all the ghats in the state capital where a total of 120 teams of doctors, 211 teams of paramedical staff and 33 ambulances have been deployed.

Taking a lesson from the stampede during the Chhath festival of 2012, which was said to be triggered by a rumour of an electric cable having snapped, the administration has also launched a mobile app to disseminate correct information among the devotees.

Besides, the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has deployed 600 rescuers on various ghats along the river Ganges with 70 inflatable boats to avert any disaster.

NDRF teams have been deployed at Patna and in Buxar, Supaul, Bhojpur and East Champaran districts, and the teams are equipped with other life-saving, flood rescue equipment such as life jackets, headlamps and searchlights.

“Three NDRF medical base camps have been established at Gaighat, Gandhi Ghat and Digha Ghat in Patna. Besides, three self-contained water ambulances equipped with medical staff and life-saving medicines have also been deployed on the banks of the Ganga,” an NDRF release said.