On the fourth day of Shukla Paksha of Kartik, lakhs of devotees along the Indo-Gangetic plains, chiefly Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, begin the four-day Chhath festival, in continuance of a tradition that goes back to posterity, carrying forward India's living tradition of worshipping the divine creator and nourisher -- the Sun God. Today, lakhs of Biharis settled in other parts of India and even abroad perform Chhath. Legend has it that Draupadi, the wife of the Panch Pandavas, performed Chhath when in exile from Hastinapur. As many as 14 shlokas have been dedicated to Usha -- or Chhathi Maiya -- in the earliest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda. Usha has sometimes been mentioned as the Sun's beloved and other times as the Sun's wife, and therefore the name Chhathi Maiya. Chhath, also performed by some Muslims, is a worship of the Nirakar Brahma, the non-dualist existence of the creator and the created. Chhath is celebrated twice a year, once in May-July called Chaiti Chhath, and once in October-November called Kartik Chhath.

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