The first time I visited Janakpur was during Chhat that falls just after the Nepali festival of Tihar. Whereas Tihar is a national festival, Chhat is celebrated only in the Eastern Terai. Probably the best place to witness this festival is in Janakpur, with its ponds – auspicious places to greet the sun god on the morning of Chhat.
Staying in an Australian friend’s small rooftop apartment, she knew the best place to get fresh fruit – pineapple, bananas and that Nepali fruit which looks like a grapefruit and is often served with chilli and spices. She also knew the best place to eat typical Mithili food such as anarsa, similar to a hole-less donut made of rice flour, ghee and sugar. During that trip we took the only train in Nepal, sadly no longer running, out into the surrounding villages. With their own ponds, the villages were also preparing to celebrating Chhat. Huge plates of towering fruits and sweets were being readied to offer to the sun god. Sweets, puffed rice, and special dishes such as rashiyaw, were served to us before we walked back along the dusty road into Janakpur town to get an early night before our 4am wake-up call to join the festivities.