Back home in Bihar on Chhath

November 1st, 2011 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 1 (IANS) Satender Singh and Jagnarain Yadav are happy to be back home to celebrate Chhath, Bihar’s most popular festival, with family and friends.

In their mid-30s, both left the throbbing hosiery town of Tripur in Tamil Nadu, reached Patna and immediately left for their village in neighbouring Vaishali district.

In no time, they were enjoying kheer, a special traditional dish of rice and milk, in their homes.

The four-day Chhath festival began Sunday and ends Wednesday morning with hundreds of thousands, mainly married women, thronging the river banks to bathe before preparing traditional food.

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

Over the years, Chhath has emerged as a symbol of Bihari identity when people across villages, small towns and cities cut across various barriers to pray to the sun god.

Satender Singh and Jagnarain Yadav are two of hundreds of thousands of Bihar’s migrants, mostly workers, who are still coming home, packing buses and trains from virtually every part of India.

Lakhs have already reached their homes.

This is the season when Biharis insist on being in Bihar — for family gatherings and eagerly anticipated celebrations.

Even the rich, professionals and the well known are in Bihar for the festival.

“It is time for the return of the native,” quipped Saibal Gupta, the man behind the Patna-based only think tank ADRI.

“Our own families are celebrating because we are home,” said Mannu Kumar, who works as a labourer in Kochi, told IANS after reaching Bihar.

According to experts, it is difficult to estimate the number of labourers from Bihar working in various parts of India.

Most of the Bihari labour concentration is said to be in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Assam, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune also have a sizeable number of people from Bihar. The state government has no record.

Most migrants from Bihar work in farms, factories, construction and infrastructure sites and do many other jobs. Many are also professionals - and are counted among the best in the field.

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