On Chhath, Bihar's Rohtas celebrates folk culture on riverbank
Rohtas (Bihar), Nov 15: Endowed with natural beauty, an old bank of River Sone in the historic Rohtas district in south Bihar will come alive with folk songs and performances this Chhath, as part of an overnight programme coinciding with the festival, which seeks to revive the forgotten and fading cultural legacy of the region.
Chhath Puja, a three-day festival during which devotees worship the Sun God starts tomorrow.
During this age-old traditional celebration, mostly observed in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh region, people pay obeisance to the setting and the rising sun in succession on the last two days.
The programme, 'Uga Ho Suruj Deva' is a civil society initiative taken up in Dehri-in-Sone, a small but historic town in Rohtas, the district otherwise famous as the land of 'Sher Shah Suri', the Afghan king who built the Grand Trunk Road, and lies interred here in Sasaram in his famed but neglected mausoleum, said to have partly inspired the Taj Mahal design.
"Chhath last two days entail offering ('argyas') to the setting sun and the rising sun, and so we are doing this programme on the intervening night. We will begin on November 17 evening when devotees will assemble at the Anicut Ghat for the evening 'arghya' and the event will go on till next morning when they again offer the morning 'arghya'," said Manish Singh, the chief organiser.
Singh, an engineer in the public sector, hails from Dehri-on-Sone, and also part-time runs an NGO 'Incredible Rohtas' that explores the hidden, forgotten cultural landmarks, and promotes the region's tangible and intangible heritage.
"Today, cheap and vulgar Bhojpuri songs have invaded our cultural spaces and we have forgotten how rich Shahabad region's linguistic and architectural legacy have been. And, so through this programme, we seek to celebrate our folk music, dance and theatre and revive our forgotten cultural legacy," Singh said.
Shahabad region refers to a part of south Bihar which includes Ara, Rohtas and parts of Gaya districts. The term finds reference in historical texts but is no more in vogue, though residents of the region continue to use the term.
Bhojpuri is the primary dialect spoken in this region, besides some tribal tongues. "The songs and dances on the Chhath day will showcase our culture and implore people to return to their original heritage rather than be swayed by meaningless cheap and commercial cinema that degrades our culture," he said.
From Ganga to Sone to Gandak and Ghagra, riverbanks in all districts are flooded with devotees jostling for a space there, and the colourful paraphernalia of the festival becomes a visual treat for visitors and locals alike.