New Delhi: The festivities of Chhath Puja, the greatest festival spanning two-and-a-half States Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh, began yesterday with the ritual khaay-nahaay.
Administrations across the country have, as usual, made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the devotees as people from these regions form a sizeable chunk of the demography of all major cities and towns of India.
The cleanliness drive by the MCD has, however, been lacklustre. They had paid no heed to the request by MLA Ghanshyam Das Arora 15 days ago.
Fed up by the administration, devotees themselves cleared large parts of the banks of Yamuna where as many as 50,000 people are expected to converge tomorrow. Ashamed of the citizens’ pro-active attitude, the MCD finally pressed into service their earth movers besides ensuring adequate lighting. But the roads had more or less been cleaned by different citizen committees.
Councillor Nirmala Chaudhary said on Friday that there was not much to be done by the corporation as the workers noticed after reaching the banks that these had been cleaned to a great extent. Satish Srivastava of the Purvanchal Samiti for Chhath seeks some credit for this voluntary service.
In Patna, the government has come up with a mobile application to help devotees who would throng the Ganga tomorrow.
In Muzaffarpur, the Seedhi and Chandwara ghats have been declared dangerous for the occasion. The local administration has to finish making some ad hoc ghats as replacements before tonight.
The civic authority in Kishanganj has sought the Bihar government’s assistance in supplying them with some additional police force to guard its 40 ghats.
The puja committee in Giridih, Jharkhand, has urged the district administration to repair the Tundi Road, Shiv Muhalla Road, Kali Badi Chowk, Makatpur and Arangaghat Road before the people start pouring in.
The Lucknow administration has somehow managed to prepare the Lakshman Mela ground for the occasion after the area was held to ransom by activists of different political groups. President of the local Bhojpuri Samaj Prabhunath Rai’s 26 October letter to the government was not enough to move the departments concerned.
Neither the demonstrations have stopped nor is the Kataki Mela being transferred to the Manakameshwar Ghat. The existing ghat is, in fact, too small for the purpose of Chhath, because of which about 200 parks are being prepared for the festival. There is a request to make 50 additional buses ply on routes through Chinhat, Mavaiya and Gomati Nagar.
In the meantime, a Swedish couple, Niklas Aaronson and Tilda Henriksson, who have been visiting Varanasi, for years were finally so impressed by the tradition that they got wedded last Thursday in the most ancient but living city of the world, following Vedic rituals.