Standing waist-deep in rivers, women have been fasting and making offerings to the Sun to pray for the well-being of their husbands and family. During the Hindu festival of Chhath Puja, devotees immerse themselves in rivers and lakes at sunrise and sunset to worship Surya, the sun god.
Devotees prepare offerings of fruit and flowers to appease Surya and beg for the longevity and prosperity of their husbands and other family members. The sun god is also believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy. The festival is celebrated on the sixth and seventh days after Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. It is observed mainly in India's Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states, and in Nepal. Although it is usually observed by women it is not uncommon to see men participate in this ancient tradition.
This article was first published on November 18, 2015