During the Chhath festival, Hindus, young and old from all walks of life, immerse themselves in ponds or rivers for a “holy bath” to thank the sun for the gift of life. The festival is celebrated for four consecutive days.
People from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh participated in the Chhath Puja festivities with traditional fervour and gaiety on Tuesday evening.
With spruced up Yamuna ghats (banks) and ancillary roads, tight security arrangements were in place as devotees started visiting various ghats to worship the setting sun.
It was a gazetted holiday in Delhi.
According to officials, at least 1.5 lakh people visited the banks of Yamuna to offer their prayers to the setting sun.
Polluted by industrial waste and sewage, the river’s waters, however, left many devotees visiting the ghats disappointed as they endeavoured to take a holy dip.
Despite the banks being cleaned, the contaminated water remained a major issue among the devotees as it gave off a stench that was hard to avoid.
Devotees at the Hathi Ghat, located near ITO, complained about the stinking water.
Sarojini Devi, from Darbhanga, Bihar, now living in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar area, said: “I have been worshiping here for 10 years. Every year I see the quality of the water in the river deteriorating. The river is so polluted that it seems dead now.”
“Though all the arrangements are very good, the water in the river is very dirty and its stench is not allowing me to stand here. But, after all, we will have to offer prayer in this water as there is no other option,” she said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while visiting Hathi Ghat recently, had said that in addition to the 128 ghats, more ghats would be made available for Chhath Puja celebrations this time.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Water Minister Kapil Mishra participated in Chhath Puja celebrations in the city.
Raju, of Madhubani, Bihar, who lives in east Delhi’s Mandawali area, took the holy dip unwillingly.
“Yamuna’s water is now not drinkable. I had to take a dip in the river just because of the custom,” he said adding, “Had it been any other day, I would not even think of bathing in Yamuna.”
Organising secretary of Chhath Puja Samiti (Delhi Pradesh) Barrister Singh conceded that the water was dirtier and stinking in comparison to previous year.
“All the arrangements including security are good but I accept that this year the water is more dirty in comparison to the previous year. Last year more water was released from Haryana which took away the contaminated water. This is not yet done this year,” Singh said.
Celebrated on the sixth day after Diwali, the festival of Chhath, dedicated to the Sun God, will continue till Wednesday morning when devotees will worship the rising sun.