The celebration of Igas in the upper Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, which begins month-long festivities, today (25 November), has seen the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urging people hailing from the region to go local. Literally.
Rajya Sabha leader Anil Baluni has urged the MPs and MLAs to go back to their villages and ancestral homes to celebrate the festival, which is also known as Budh Diwali.
Igas is celebrated to mark the return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya.
It is celebrated 11 days after Deepawali in the belief that the news of Ram, Sita and Lakshman reached the Kumaon and Garhwal regions 11 days after their return.
An important festival in the region, its cultural relevance to Uttarakhand is being used with an aim to connect people who migrate from the region, to their villages.
Baluni and others are hoping that the festival and worship will help in bringing people back to their homes and roots.
Member of Parliament from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar, Ajay Bhatt, has reportedly said: “Following migration, villages are getting deserted and I have raised this issue in Parliament as well. If people return to their native places to celebrate festivals and get connected to their roots, it may lead to a reverse-migration.”
Another leader who has joined the celebration of the lokparva in villages is Uttarakhand WCD Minister Rekha Arya.
She has reportedly said that over the years, she celebrated Igas in Dehradun, Haldwani and Bareilly, "but this time is going to her village — Sonadipokhri in Someshwar."
Arya has said that she will be celebrating the festival in her village following the call from Baluni.
Celebrated 11 days after Deepawali, Igas Bagwaal, held on Ekadashi is marked with the worshipping of Lakshmi and cows, the playing of Bhailo and other customary folk performing arts, such as Thadiya and Jhumailo.
Rice and a meal prepared from local produce is served to the cattle family.
Bhailo is a ritual dedicated to Lakshmi, traditional performing art, and recreation in one, where the ropes and pine wood are lit with fire, and used with body movements.
Bhailo is played and performed alongside traditional music and songs.
The cows and members of the cow family are made to wear the tilak and offered a garland of flowers. Children, who dedicate time to taking care of the cows, are honoured during the festivities.
Igas Bagwaal is celebrated in Jaunpur, Thauldhaar, Pratapnagar, Chamiala and others. It is also believed that it was on the 11th day after Deepawali that the soldiers of Garhwal fought along with the brave soldier Veer Madho Singh Bhandari to win the battle in Tibet.
Igas festivities and related worship are observed by communities in other parts of Uttarakhand. This year, Covid-19 has affected the celebration of Igas.
The call of returning to villages on Igas is aimed at urging migrants to stay on beyond Deepawali to connect with the cultural roots of the region. Baluni has also urged people across Uttarakhand to observe Igas at homes.
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