Ignoring her illness, former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi has decided to go ahead and celebrate the Chhath festival, marked by grand festivity at their Patna home to which politicians and leaders of different faith are invited every year.Rabri Devi, in her late 50s, is suffering from acute diabetic and spine problem and not keeping well for some months. She will observe the 36 hours of fasting and also offer "arghya" to the setting and rising Sun god as part of the Chhat rituals at the side of a makeshift pond at their 10, Circular Road, sprawling official bungalow."The entire family is now together," a staffer said in reference to the festive atmosphere at the house of Rabri Devi, who has had three stints as Chief Minister of Bihar.Lalu Prasad had told the media earlier that Rabri Devi will not celebrate Chhath, the most popular Hindu festival in Bihar, this year due to illness. Rabri Devi did not celebrate the festival last year and announced that she would celebrate Chhath only after her two sons -- Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, who were ministers in the previous Grand Alliance government -- get married.Clad in her usual colourful cotton sari with a red bindi on her forehead and surrounded by her daughters, Rabri Devi was busy since early Tuesday morning preparing traditional food for the first day of Chhath, known as "Nahay Khai".
According to RJD leaders here, Chhath has always been a big family get together for the Lalu-Rabri family. "Rabri Devi's Chhath celebration is popular as politicians, irrespective of party affiliations, and people from all faiths and communities visit their house for her traditional 'prasad' during the festival," said RJD leader Chandeshwar Prasad.Interestingly, Chhath celebration at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's residence is a low key affair. His sister and sister-in-law (the wife of his elder brother) are performing the Chhath puja.The four-day Chhath, a festival for paying obeisance to the Sun, began on Tuesday with "Nahay Khai"'. Devotees, mostly married women, throng the river banks early in the morning for a bath before preparing the traditional meal of boiled rice and pumpkin.This is followed by "kharna", when "kheer", sweetened milk-rice porridge, is cooked and distributed among neighbours, friends and relatives.During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, banana and coconut to the sun.