FREMONT, CALIFORNIA, November 16, 2023 (Religion News): An ancient ritual as old as Hinduism itself has traveled through time and space all the way to the waters of California’s Bay Area. Starting at sundown on Friday (Nov. 17), hundreds of Hindus will wade into the waters of Quarry Lakes, a man-made lake in Fremont, California, to express reverence to nature, which they believe to be God manifest. The festival of Chhath, which originated in the Indian state of Bihar, is devoted to Surya, the God of the Sun. Worshippers thank Surya for providing light, warmth and life by fasting for three days and offering solitary prayers and fruits. With a focus on meditation and gratitude, the Vedic tradition, named for the Vedas, its sacred texts, is still present in yoga’s Sun Salutation, or surya namaskar.

While it began with a single family’s observance in 2011, the Quarry Lakes Chhath has turned into an event that will draw 1,700 people this year — a number limited by the Quarry Lakes park authority’s cap on attendance. With more than 4,000 Hindus expressing interest, the event is sold out in minutes after word spreads that registration is open. The tradition requires one member of a family to maintain a strict fast from sundown on Friday to sunrise on Sunday. At the end, everyone is fed Thekhua, a famous Bihari treat made of wheat, jaggery (made from cane sugar) and clarified butter, or ghee.

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