Khagendra Kumar, Chief Editor

We are celebrating Chhath pooja which gives the cultural identity to Bihar. A long festive season that starts with Shardiya Navratri and Durga pooja and ends with Chhath pooja. Unlike other popular Hindu festivals like Durga Pooja, Deepawali, Holi, Chhath pooja is mainly celebrated by Biharis. This is a festival of people's faith in Sun God which is supposed to be the supreme source of energy of the earth. The festival is celebrated at the banks of a river or beside a water source like ponds with homemade sweets and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Equality is the inherent principle of celebrating the festival. All, the rich and poor pay obeisance to the setting and the rising sun in a bomboo weaven soop and basket filled with homemade pakwans and seasonal fruits and vegetables. The festival is also a symbol of simplicity, community living, and social cooperation. The people prepare and clean ghats together where they celebrate the festival.

The festival continues for four days starting with Nahay Khay (kaddu bhat) and ends on the fourth day morning after paying 'arghya' to the rising sun. The devotee has to go through fasting of nearly 36 hours. In this festival, obeisance is first given to the setting sun and then to the rising sun. Such practice teaches us a just approach to humanity.

People of my generation must be missing the long festival vacation of nearly one month which started from the beginning of Navratri and ends with chhath puja. We learned many great lessons through the inherent teaching in these festivals. We visited our relatives and they visited us. We had several plans to execute during this vacation. During our school and college days, we experienced a kind of euphoria for this month-long vacation. Now I strongly feel that the change in the structure of month-long puja vacation has robed the children and youth of the great opportunity of social life. Although festivals are continuing in some form, the changing nature of leisure and vacation has forced hurriedness and shrank the social character of these festivals to the nuclear family.

A chance to resonate the message of Durga puja, Deewali, and Chhath festivals must be given to the children and youth of the society by restoring month-long vacation in schools and higher education institutions. The opportunity to lead social life must be provided to them as they learn the lessons from wider society which formal institutions can not provide.

Wish all readers of Politic India a very happy CHHATH PUJA!