NEW DELHI – Thousands of Hindu devotees on Tuesday took a dip in the sacred Yamuna river in a ritual dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, and prayed for prosperity and well-being to celebrate the “Chhath Puja” festival.
Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival, particularly popular in the Indian capital New Delhi and eastern parts of the country, is held on consecutive days at sunrise and sunset to pray for well-being, prosperity and progress from Surya, who is depicted surrounded by seven horses.
The worship of the Sun god in India is related to curing diseases, as devotees traditionally believed that the rituals can cure them of various skin problems – such as leprosy – blindness and infertility.
Despite high levels of pollution in Indian rivers, devotees carried out rituals and prayers on Tuesday in the river Yamuna, which flows through the northern states of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Hindu devotees were seen carrying bamboo baskets full of offerings such as coconuts, flowers, sugarcane, ginger, turmeric, honey and fruits, into the river.
Married women wear sindoor, a traditional red or orange colored powder in their hair parting, while carrying out the ritual.
Chhath Puja is mainly celebrated in the northern and northeastern states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.