Chhath, a time for migrants from Bihar to return home

Chhath, a time for migrants from Bihar to return home
Patna, Oct 28: Hundreds of thousands of migrants from Bihar are returning to their homes to celebrate Chhath with their families and relatives. After a long journey, they are now happy and relaxed.

"It is a big time for us to return to our villages, to celebrate Chhath with family, relatives and friends," said Dhananjay Kumar, in his early 30s, who reached Patna railway station Tuesday morning and immediately left for his village in neighbouring Jehanabad district.

Dhananjay works in a plastic factory near Pune in Maharashtra.

Like Dhananjay, thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, have returned to rural Bihar in the past two-three days while hundreds of them are still on way to reach their homes Tuesday.

"After reaching Patna from virtually every part of India, they have been packing buses and trains to reach their villages across the state," said another migrant worker Subodh Singh, who works as labour supply contractor in Delhi, before boarding a passenger train for Begusarai, his home district.

According to railway officials at the East Central Railway (ECR) headquarters at Hajipur near Patna, 1.5 to 2 lakh passengers have been arriving everyday in Bihar from across the country in more than 250 trains since past Friday to celebrate Chhath.

"All the trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Chandigarh are packed to capacity thanks to huge rush for Chhath," A.K. Razak, a railway official said.

The four-day Chhath festival began Monday and ends Thursday morning.

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.

The main ritual is known as arghya -- when devotees stand waist-deep in water to offer prayers to the setting and rising Sun god on the banks of rivers and other water bodies.

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.

"We are lucky to reach Patna, now we are in a hurry to reach our homes in Bhojpur district to enjoy kheer, a special traditional dish of milk, rice and jaggery prepared on the occasion," Chandan Yadav, who works in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, said.

Though there is no official record of number of migrant workers visiting their homes for Chhath, a top police official Gupteshwar Pandey told IANS that lakhs have already reached their homes.

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

Most of the migrants from Bihar are concentrated in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Assam, Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune also have a sizeable number of people from Bihar.


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