Former chief minister Rabri Devi and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi will perform the rituals and offer prayers to the setting sun on Friday evening and the rising sun on Saturday morning.

Celebrated six days after Diwali, Chhath is dedicated to Surya, the sun god. During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours. Devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the god.

The main ritual is known as "arghya" - when devotees stand waist deep in water and offer prayers to the sun god on the banks of rivers. Dozens of state ministers, legislators and MPs celebrated the festival that began on Wednesday across the state.

However, one leader is missing during the Chhath festivities this time - former chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad who has been jailed for five years after being convicted in the fodder scam. Nitish Kumar's official residence wore a festive look as his elder brother Satish Kumar's wife Geeta Devi and relatives performed the rituals.

"Nitish Kumar is helping out his family members despite his tight schedule," said an official at the chief minister's residence. Officials said Nitish Kumar will not be performing Chhath. After his wife Manju Sinha died in 2007, his son Nishant has been taking active part in the rituals.

Meanwhile, in the absence of Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi along with their children celebrated Chhath at her official residence near the chief minister's home in the high security zone in Patna. "After a long gap, I will celebrate Chhath in the absence of Laluji. His absence is something which can't be described in words," she said.

This is probably only the second time that Rabri Devi is celebrating Chhath when Lalu is not around. In 1997, she had observed the rituals when Lalu was in jail in connection with the fodder scam, an RJD leader said.

Rabri Devi's celebrations have been gala affairs every year, attracting attention ever since she became chief minister in 1997. "She will offer prayers at a pond at her residence instead of going to the bank of the Ganga River," party leaders said.

Paswan and his son Chirag are also in the state capital to celebrate Chhath with his brother’s families. Paswan visited Rabri Devi's residence on Thursday night to participate in the "kharna" ritual when sweet dishes are prepared and distributed.


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