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Muslim convict observes Chhath in Bihar jail

Bihar,Human Interest/Society,Immigration/Law/Rights,Religion, Mon, 19 Nov 2012 IANS

Patna, Nov 19 (IANS) A Muslim convict serving out a life term in Bihar's Bhagalpur Central Jail is observing a fast and performing other rituals of Chhath, the most popular Hindu festival of Bihar, jail officials said Monday.

Mohammad Ghuri, who was convicted for murder and has been lodged in the Bhagalpur Central Jail for over a year, has been religiously observing Chhath rituals, jail official Jitendra Kumar said.

"It is difficult to differentiate Mohammad Ghuri from dozens of other Hindu inmates, who keep a fast and perform rituals during Chhath," Kumar said.

Mohammad Ghuri, a native of Aulia village in West Champaran district, celebrated Chhath in prison last year too.

"He told us that he was observing the fast and offering the prayers to seek absolution for his sins," Kumar said.

Jail officials said Mohammad Ghuri was getting all the support from Hindu inmates for the observance of the rituals.

Jail authorities have made arrangements to help inmates perform Chhath.

Many Muslim families in villages in Vaishali, Bhojpur, Samastipur, Begusarai and Patna districts have been celebrating Chhath for several years.

There are Muslim families that have been engaged in cleaning river banks and streets and distributing coconuts and fruits for the puja.

"Many Muslims, including women, have volunteered to clean the banks of rivers, ponds and other water bodies and streets for the festive occasion in Patna also," Anish Ankur, an activist, said.

Chhath, celebrated six days after Diwali, is a time for worship of the Sun god.

During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the Sun.

The festival began Saturday, and will end Tuesday.

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