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Global gathering for God, gaiety

- NRI devotees land in state to take part in rituals with relatives

Taking time out of their busy schedule, several non-resident Indians (NRIs) are back home to celebrate Chhath with their near and dear ones.

Be it far east or west, distance could not deter them from flying in. Some even sprang a surprise for their kin landing a couple of days in advance.

“I am very particular when it comes to festivals. As my mother is the parvaiti (the major worshipper who observes all the rituals associated with the fast), I apply for holidays three months before Chhath,” said Neeraj Prabhakar, who works as a researcher with a biotech firm in Turku, Finland.

“Every year, I carry prasad for friends. For them, it’s a festival of traditional food from Bihar,” added Neeraj, who hails from Khagaul.

For those abroad, Chhath offers a chance for a perfect family reunion. “Celebrating the festival on your soil with your loved ones gives a lot of satisfaction,” said Madhuri Singh, who came down from England on Friday.

Madhuri, a resident of Gardanibagh, has been living in England with her family for the past 10 years. “It is difficult for Indians residing in England to perform Chhath rituals,” said her husband Dr Satyendra Singh. The NRI family was busy shopping on the streets of Patna on Sunday. “Keeping each ritual in mind, we made the list,” said Madhuri.

She added that her daughter Vidhi was astonished to see the cleanliness of the ghats and the roads this year. “I can’t believe all these arrangements have been made for Chhath,” said Vidhi.

Madhuri’s elder daughter, Jolly, also flew in from New Zealand with her husband Dyan to spend some quality time with the family.

Dr Nupur has come all the way from Doha, Qatar, after her son Aahan asked her about Chhath. “I was touched when my younger son asked me if his grandmother performs Chhath and decided to come down to Patna.”

Her husband Dr Ankur said no one in their home performs Chhath but he would take Aahan to the Ganga ghat to make him aware of their culture.

Vish Kumar, a London-based software engineer, gave his mother a pleasant surprise this Chhath by arriving in Patna two days before schedule. “My wife Jane loves spending time in India with my family. She is learning the rituals of Chhath. She has decided to perform the ceremonies in the future for Shiv, my five-year-old son,” said Vish, who is married to a US national.

His wife wore a sari at the airport keeping the tradition in mind. When asked about the traditions and rituals of Chhath, Jane said: “I love shopping for Chhath with my mother-in-law. I make a list and follow each and every ritual. I want to be prepared to perform the rituals in the coming years.”

“The only festival that the entire Bihar celebrates together is Chhath. My relatives and my mother start ticking dates on the calendar from Navaratri,” said Prakash Singh, who has travelled from Japan to take part in the festival.

He added: “I arrived three days before Chhath because we had to clean our house and I don’t want my mother to fall sick when she has to fast for 36 hours,” added Prakash, a Kankerbagh resident.