By Reena Bhardwaj
New Jersey [US], November 22 (ANI): Over 600 Indian-Americans gathered at the banks of Lake Manalapan, Monroe in New Jersey to celebrate the festival of Chhath, a ritual that entails the worship of Sun God, embodied in cosmic energy, and is observed mainly by people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Indian-Americans from the New Jersey area attended the four-day long annual festival organised by the Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America on Friday. The event was attended by Consul General of India (New York) Randhir Jaiswal and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha.
"The Bihari and Jharkhandi diaspora felt at home and the next generation stays connected to our roots,' said Dr Avinash Gupta, President, Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America.
The community was initially apprehensive about celebrating the event but members of the Indian diaspora came together and performed the rituals with greater safety measures and social distancing amid ongoing COVID-19. This year also witnessed a drive-through arrangement for performing rituals and prasad distribution.
The four-day celebration was also celebrated virtually via Zoom and Facebook live. "Volunteers got together to prepare the 'Thekua' prasad in large quantities so that no visitor could leave without the mahaprasad," said Vinay Singh, former president of Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America and also an organiser of the event.
Last year, around 700 Indian-Americans took part in this festival of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Neetu Prasad a participant of the celebrations from New Jersey started performing the Chhath Puja just a year ago. "I really like doing this puja and wanted to carry this culture for our kids and future generation. First time I did it in Ranchi, this year in USA," Prasad said.
Minal Govil another participant, has been performing Chhat for more than 6 years now, said "I am celebrating this festival to maintain a long-term tradition of our family. Even though I am from Gujarat, I got married in Bhagalpur Bihar, but I really like this festival and look forward to carrying the legacy of my family."
Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America, a not-for-profit organisation, was established in the US in 1975 by the first generation of Bihari Immigrants. Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America over years has become a platform for all people from Bihar and Jharkhand to come together and help each other. Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America is now one huge family and a strong cultural organisation with three a thousand members. The membership is spread across the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and DC. (ANI)