The Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America (BJANA) celebrated Chhath Puja at Thompson Park, Monroe, New Jersey. Over 500 members attended the celebration virtually, according to a press release.
Chhath Puja is one of the most auspicious festivals in Bihar, Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The festival is dedicated to Surya Bhagwaan (Sun God), which people believe sustains life on the earth. The puja is also performed to seek blessings from Surya to live a long, healthy and prosperous life. The festival is celebrated between the months of October and November, according to Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India.
According to a press release by BJANA, around 25 to 30 vratis (people who keep fasta) carry out the puja together at the organization. This year, due to COVID-19 and safety concerns, only five vratis performed together while the rest prayed at their homes.
BJANA started organizing the community wide chhath puja four years ago, which has now become their signature event. Over 600 members attended the event last year.
The event was attended by Consul General of India, New York Randhir Jaiswal and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha with their families.
BJANA president Dr. Avinash Gupta, chief of cardiology at Kimball Medical Center, Lakewood, NJ expressed his gratitude for having a dedicated team which came together to deliver their best.
“Due to the spread of COVID-19, it is a very difficult time of the year and BAJAN community was initially apprehensive about celebrating this event in a traditional manner. The entire community came together and had this idea to celebrate mahaparva event with extensive safety measures and social distancing,” Gupta was quoted saying in the press release.
The BJANA executive committee organized a drive through arghya (symbolic offering to god) and prasad (food offering to god) distribution. Media experts of the committee, Pranit Singh and Sudhakar Raj telecasted the entire event live on Zoom and Facebook.
Many members of the community observed a three-day fast for the puja.
BJANA Member and past president Shashi Sinha stated, “Thanks to my BJANA family here in New Jersey for celebrating chhath puja with this energy and covid compliance. This reminds me of our Chhath celebration back home.”
BJANA Member and past president Vinay Singh said, “Volunteers made the prasad in large quantities so that no visitors leave without it. Vratis observing the 36 hours fast blessed all visitors after offering the morning arghya to the rising sun. All residents of New Jersey from Bihar-Jharkhand and eastern UP got to enjoy the event once again.”