The four-day long Chhath Puja festival commenced on Friday, October 28. The festival, which involves the offering of prayers to the rising and setting sun by fasting devotees in knee-deep water, is largely celebrated by Purvanchalis — people from Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The festival is not just limited to these states, and is celebrated with much fanfare in other states and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and even abroad in the United States by devotees.
The first day of the festival involves devotees cleaning their homes, while a fast is observed on day two. On day three, devotees offer evening ‘arghya’ to the setting sun after a full-day fast and on the last day, ‘arghya’ is offered to the rising sun in the morning. After this, the fast is broken with a traditional feast which includes dishes like chawal ke kheer, laal saag, thekua and kohnda.
The festival, which is being celebrated with vigour after two years of Covid-related restrictions, stands out for its non-requirement of a priest during rituals. With the motive of offering gratitude to the Sun, who unlike other gods and goddesses, is a pratyaksha (visible) devata, there is no intermediary required as prayers are directly offered by the devotees, as per India Today.
Dry Day in Delhi, 1100 Ghats Prepared
In a first, Delhi LG V K Saxena using his special powers declared Sunday as a ‘dry day’ on the occasion of Chhath Puja. He also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking him to deal with the issue of toxic froth in Yamuna before the festival on Sunday. “The issue regarding foam and pollution in Yamuna is of grave concern and if left unattended may prove to be injurious to devotees. Accordingly, it needs to be redressed urgently,” Saxena wrote in his letter.
About 10,000 to 40,000 people are expected to participate in the festival in Delhi on the ghats of the Yamuna river. Delhi Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot on Friday visited Hathi Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna to take stock of the preparations. The Delhi government is making 1,100 ghats for the puja across the city and has increased the budget 10 times from Rs 2.5 crore in 2014 to nearly Rs 25 crore. The Yamuna will be barricaded and artificial ponds used for pollution-free celebrations.
Country’s Largest Ghat in Chhattisgarh
The Torwa Chhath Ghat in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, is the largest permanent and systematic ghat in the country situated on the Arpa river. Preparations are being made by the Patliputra Sanskriti Vikas Manch for over one lakh devotees, as per ABP Live. Traffic preparations have been made, and increased aid from the police administration as well volunteer services have been organised.
Bihar Police on Alert, Patna’s Marine Drive Centre of Attraction
Four companies of SSB personnel, and over 4000 constables and soldiers have been deputed in Patna for celebrations. Additionally, 155 Police Inspectors, and over 2000 trainee ‘darogas’ have been deployed among others.
Given the by-elections in two districts of the state, police forces are on alert and a sufficient number of central paramilitary forces will be deployed at the booths along with a sufficient number of central paramilitary forces, as per Zee News.
Even though the water level of the Ganga has increased and many ghats declared dangerous, the central attraction in Bihar is Patna’s JP Ganga Path also known as the Patna Marine Drive. For the first time since construction, Chhath will be held on the banks of Ganga on JP-Ganga Path. The Patna district administration has made full preparations regarding this as thousands of devotees are expected, with 12 ghats built and elevated roads for easy movement.
Jharkhand Geared Up
One of the state’s biggest festivals, the administration has cleaned Chhath ghats, marking danger zones and barricading vulnerable water bodies, while devotees were busy buying puja materials at markets earlier this week.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren had on Wednesday inspected the administrative preparations at Chhath ghats, checking cleanliness, safety measures and other facilities for the festivals, at Kanke Dam and Hatniya pond in Ranchi. Vulnerable water bodies were barricaded, and cleanliness and power was ensured.
The festival has also gone international as Indian-origin residents bring the festivities there. Indian-origin migrants have organised celebrations in Miami, USA. People from Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh will join in, as per Amar Ujala. Preparations for Chhath have started by making tents and kunds and Spanish and American citizens have also been invited, they said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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