Chhath, a festival to worship the Sun God, was celebrated on Saturday with lakhs of devotees, mostly women, thronging the ghats of numerous rivers in Bihar.
The ghats of the Ganga, Kosi, Kiul, Bagmati, Kamla Balan, Gandak and Burhi Gandak, besides thousands of ponds, were thronged by worshippers, who offered prasad cooked in pure ghee and mixed with sugar, raisins, coconuts, flour, fruits and sugarcane.
Songs composed by Bhojpuri artistes, seeking the blessings of Chhati Mata for the prosperity of family members, were sung and crackers were burst. Devotees offered arghyas to the setting sun as pujas were performed by priests. They will again visit the respective ghats early on Sunday morning to offer arghyas to the rising sun before breaking a 36-hour fast.
In the state capital, devotees gathered at spruced up and lighted ghats along the river Ganga, between Digha and Patna. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's sister led the family in performing the puja from the CM's official residence at 1, Anne Marg.
Former chief minister Rabri Devi also performed a puja at her 10 Circular Road residence where she and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad greeted devotees..
Senior state officials, including Chief Secretary Anoop Mukherjee, Director General of Police Anand Shankar and Home Secretary Amir Subhani, besides Deputy Chief Minister S K Modi, inspected the security arrangements at the ghats.
Special security arrangements were made at the ghats, with units of National Disaster Management Response Force and boats with divers deployed, official sources said.
Officials of the Home (Prisons) department made special arrangements for prisoners who observed a fast for the festival. Fruits and prasad were distributed to the prisoners at the high-security Beur jail and other divisional jails in Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Purnia, Siwan, Chapra, Darbhanga and Motihari, officials said.
Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Neelmani said the celebrations were peaceful.