Chhath holiday triggers demand for public holidays on Uttarakhand hill festivals | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Chhath holiday triggers demand for public holidays on Uttarakhand hill festivals

Uttarakhand natives have demanded that public holidays be declared on festivals indigenous to the hill state after the BJP government announced one for Chhath, celebrated mainly by natives of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

dehradun Updated: Oct 27, 2017 20:49 IST
Neha Pant
The Uttarakhand government declared a public holiday on October 26 on account of Chhath Pooja.
The Uttarakhand government declared a public holiday on October 26 on account of Chhath Pooja. (Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

Uttarakhand natives have demanded that public holidays be declared on festivals indigenous to the hill state after the BJP government announced one for Chhath, celebrated mainly by natives of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier this week, the Trivendra Singh Rawat government had declared a public holiday on October 26 on account of Chhath Pooja, dedicated to the worship of the Sun God and his wife Usha.

Last year, the erstwhile Congress government of chief minister Harish Rawat, too, had announced a public holiday on Chhath, evoking a similar backlash from the hill community for allegedly giving preference to festivals celebrated by non-native communities over those belonging to Uttarakhand.

Underlining how the pahadi (hill) community felt “neglected” in their own land, Suyash Kukrety of Yuva Garhwal Sabha, a socio-cultural organization, said, “We welcome holiday on Chhath, but what about (declaring holidays on) the native festivals of Uttarakhand?”

In a letter to the CM, Kukrety wrote, “I’m hopeful that you’ll declare holidays for our own festivals like the upcoming Igas (a post-Diwali festival to be celebrated on October 30) also, lest the public of Uttarakhand should view it (Chhath holiday) as your stunt for political gains.”

Alleging how neither the previous Congress nor the current BJP government were “serious about the pahadi culture”, activist Amit Gusain ‘Pahadi’ said, “We should not even expect him (CM Rawat) to declare holidays on our local festivals which are being pushed into oblivion by the successive governments. Our state was formed after such a long struggle, so much for the respect of hill sentiments!”

Darshan Singh Rawat, media coordinator for CM Rawat, said that the government would consider declaring holidays on major hill festivals. He, however, rejected the allegation that there was any political motivation behind declaring a holiday on Chhath.

Even current CM’s official social media account was flooded with similar comments, with many asking if the hill state’s native festivals, too, would qualify for holidays.

“Sir, aapne Uttarakhand ke kitne local tyoharon par avkash ghoshit kiya (Sir, how many holidays were declared on local festivals)?” asked one Twitter user Mohit.

User Rajesh Juglan urged CM Rawat to ‘shut the critics up by declaring a public holiday on Uttarakhand’s native festival Igas’. Some even called for development instead of holidays.

“Sir ji humko avkash nahin, sthayi rozgar chahye (Sir, we want employment, not holidays),” wrote another user Vikram Singh Rawat.

Political observers, meanwhile, said such decisions by governments were often taken “on political grounds” and inevitably led to the opening of a Pandora’s Box.

“Neither the Congress nor the BJP could have afforded to ignore the sizable vote bank of poorvanchalis settled or living in Uttarakhand,” said Jay Singh Rawat, a Dehradun-based political commentator.