I am always under swept with a feeling of nostalgia hearing the sweet, sonorous songs of Chattha, bringing in me a surge of past memories-with the setting in of the kartik month, every household seemed to be in the grip of this Chattha fever- the making of ghats for offering the Arghya to the Surya Dev. A team of young volunteers under the patronage of a mukhiya armed with spade, khurpi set out for the ghat to clear the space by weeding out the overgrown grass,then forming stairs like the Vanar Sena of Lord Rama while another group started the cleanliness drive and the large mounds of garbage just vanished as if never existing before. Every nook and corner spoke of spick and span. At home, the women folk cleaned wheat grains with the microscopic lens fixed in their eyes to discard every broken sick looking grain of wheat and outcame the healthy smiling wheat to face the process of washing, straining drying and finally to be grounded to flour in the chakki. The market was flooded with the soops and dauras and all the seasonal fruits and all of a sudden food inflation seemed to skyrocket, the buyers helplessly bargained for the soops, coconut etc. but the seller remained unmoved like Shylock. The roaring price failed to dampen the indomitable spirit of the Chattha devotees.
Mark the fear in the child's eyes scared by Mr. Dabang-
A joint family worshipping the Sun God-
This year, I spent this festival at my sister-in-law's place. The ghat was on the bank of the holy river, Ganga. On the first day of Arghaya to the Sun. we started quite earlier at 2 PM so as to have the choice place to keep the soop and daura. We got our desired place and were beaming with broad smile and an expression of deep satisfaction on our face as if we were the winners of the one day cricket match. We were still basking in the glory of our heroic deed when a dada type man arrived and scared away a small family of just four persons- the grandma, her son and daughter-in-law and her grand son.This dabang dada kept standing all through the arghaya like a scarecrow. His was a large family of eight to ten members and he kept himself posted there as The Great wall of China. And then, what I saw, filled me with repulsion-the devotees doing datoons, rinsing their mouth with Ganga water and spitting in the same holy river..... crashed all the holiness, ............leave their sense of hygiene and sanitation. Education still seems an untrodden path for them....
.But one thing was quite noticable.....this festival had erased the line of social, economical discrimination. It was nice to see all of them bathing in the same river, offering arghaya to the Sun God ( Nature) with boundless faith, Would that this fervour could be seen in our efforts at our work front too..........! For full six days the whole state is immersed in puja and nothing else. Every other work is set aside and puja comes to the fore. It becomes the saga of Gulliver's Travels as enjoyed by every age group- old, young or children. The last or the seventh day, the whole town seems to be sleeping/ yawning after a week's hard toil, the streets and the roads wear desolated look with none of the veg. vendor to be seen far and wide. Is this the true worship of Nature?