Adhering to DDMA laid protocols for Covid-19 safety norms, volunteers have been placed alongside the ghats, to ensure that only those fasting for Chhath Puja will get access to designated community ghats this year.
To ensure low attendance these volunteers will allow groups of not more than five at a time. Chhath Puja committee members share how they plan to implement these rules.
Sanjay Gupta, deputy president of Rama Vihar Chhath Puja Samiti, who is set to organise a puja at a designated pond in Rohini following all safety protocols. This pond will be visited by devotees from neighbouring areas such as Mubarakpur, Majara Dabas, Rohini, Karala and Utsav Vihar.
“People, last time, celebrated in their homes and at the terraces. The celebrations were not allowed in public places. They’re happy to congregate this time around, even if it is at a pond and not at the Yamuna. But we still plan to barricade the pond at the Chhath Ghaat. We would manage the crowds, and only vratis (people who are observing fast) will be allowed to take a dip in the pond, and offer water to Sun God. But all this will be in groups of not more than five, to avoid crowding,” informs Gupta, adding that the sanction only came in around Diwali, leaving them less time for preparations. “Taiyyari late ho gayi, toh thodi habdadi ki situation hai.”
Meanwhile earlier the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has allowed celebration of Chhath Puja in public, at some designated places, except the Yamuna Ghat. Amid strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, there’s still a wave of happiness among the devotees from the Purvanchali community in Delhi, who could celebrate the festival only by building temporary pools at the terrace of their homes last year. Chhath Puja at the ghats, which is usually celebrated on the sixth day after Diwali, falls on November 10 this year.
“In 2020, many observed the rituals on their terraces but the essence of ghats was missing,” says Vriti, adding: “I personally liked it from the health and safety point of view, of my family since Covid-19 was at its peak then. But it’s also true that the feel of ghats and the festival’s historical context got compromised. In fact, our house help was way too disturbed last year when she got to know that going to the ghats was not an option. Due to lack of space for a pool, she thought her fast wouldn’t be successful, but later she, along with a few other womenfolk from her neighbourhood decided to do the puja together, in the nearby community area.”
Ensuring Covid-19 safety protocols, Arvind Thakur, a functionary at the Purvachal Chhath Puja Committee in Dwarka Vihar, Najafgarh, shares, “Families that are not going back to their home town, or those who are now completely based in Delhi, will celebrate Chhath at these ponds. We plan to keep the affair socially distanced, and have assured local authorities about it as well. All protocols will be duly followed. There are about 50-60 people who observe the fast, and turn up to offer prayers each year. These people wait for it all year long and were looking forward to celebrating. So it’s good that at least restricted celebrations will be allowed this year.”