Activists question Rawat govt’s move to declare holiday for ‘non-hill’ festivals | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Activists question Rawat govt’s move to declare holiday for ‘non-hill’ festivals

dehradun Updated: Nov 06, 2016 20:42 IST
Neha Pant
Uttarakhand government has declared a public holiday on November 7 on the occasion of Chhath. Earlier, it announced a holiday on Karva Chauth.

Uttarakhand government has declared a public holiday on November 7 on the occasion of Chhath. Earlier, it announced a holiday on Karva Chauth.(HT file photo)

Hill activists have lashed out at the Harish Rawat government for announcing holidays for festivals celebrated by communities that are “originally not native” to Uttarakhand, alleging that the decisions were taken apparently with an eye on the assembly polls. The activists also demanded holidays for hill festivals.

The state government has declared a public holiday on November 7 on the occasion of Chhath, a festival dedicated to the Sun god, celebrated mainly by people from Bihar. Earlier, it had also declared a holiday on October 19 on Karva Chauth, a festival observed by married women primarily in northwestern India for their husbands’ longevity.

Activists working to promote the hill state’s culture have questioned the intent behind announcing holidays on these festivals, alleging that it was being done at the cost of ‘pahadi’ festivals which are indigenous to the Himalayan state.

Amit Gusain ‘Pahadi’, who is associated with the Brahmakamal group working for hill culture’s promotion, said the people of Uttarakhand fought a long battle for a separate hill state so that their native culture could flourish.

“But the government seems to be giving preference to gair-pahadi (non-hill) festivals. It (declaring holidays) is nothing but vote-bank politics to woo the respective communities ahead of the polls. Why doesn’t the government declare holidays for our indigenous festivals like igas, uttaraini and makraini?” Gusain asked.

Govind Ballabh Pandey, secretary of Kurmanchal Sanskritik Evam Kalyan Parishad (Kanwali branch), a cultural organisation of Kumaonis settled in Dehradun, demanded that hill festivals be kept on priority by the government.

“We appreciate that the government celebrated Harela-Ghee Sangrand (Uttarakhand’s native festivals) earlier this year, but no holidays were ever declared for any pahadi festivals like ghughuti and saato-aatho (a festival observed by married women in the hills),” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Bihari Mahasabha, an organisation of people from Bihar residing in Uttarakhand, hailed the government’s decision to declare a holiday on Chhath. “Around 12 lakh people from Bihar are currently living in the state and we really appreciate Rawat ji for declaring a holiday on our festival,” Chandan Kumar Jha, secretary of Bihari Mahasabha, told HT.

Culture minister Dinesh Dhanai defended the government decision to declare a holiday on Chhath. “The Bihari community had approached the government after which we declared it a holiday. If they (hill population) can build consensus on one or two festivals, we’ll do the same for hill festivals also,” Dhanai said.