Members of the Bihar and Jharkhand Sabha of Australia and New Zealand (BJSANZ) gathered at the residence of a community member in Kumeu to host and celebrate Chhath Puja.

Chhath Puja is an important and popular Hindu festival with origins in ancient Vedic times predominantly celebrated in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh in India and some parts of Nepal.

Devotees observing Chhath gathered at the residence of a community member Rupesh and Shubhu Kumar on Tuesday, November 13 to observe and participate in the holy festival of Chhath.

The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun God, to thank him for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and request the granting of certain wishes.

The rituals of the festival are rigorous and observed throughout four days including holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for an extended period and offering prasad and argha to the rising and setting sun.

The very first day of Chhath starts precisely four days from Diwali and last for another four days. On this day the people who observe fast take a bath at a river or pond and prepare lunch consisting of rice, dal mixed with pumpkin and, made in pure ghee.

The second day is known as Kharna or kheer-roti or kheer-puri. The people observe fast for the full day without taking even water and eat this kheer-roti as dinner after offering it to the rising moon and Goddess Ganga. This is the only time when they eat or drink anything from the starting of the day until the last day of Chhath.

The third day is the main festival day of Chhath where the devotees maintain 'nirjal vrat' (fast without even taking a drop of water) on the third day. It mainly consists of going to the river bank and offering 'argha' (offering of fruits and sweets in winnow) and performing Surya Namaskar to the setting sun followed by the next day event of offering argha and Surya Namaskar to the rising sun on the fourth or last day of Chhath.

The fast then comes to an end after offering argha to rising sun. In this way, nearly 42 hours of strict penance comes to an end.

The main worshippers, called Parvaitin pray for the well-being of their family, and for the prosperity of their offspring.