Chhath Puja

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


What is Chhath Puja?

The annual 4-day Chhath Puja explained.; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, November 16, 2015

See graphic:

The annual 4-day Chhath Puja explained.

History, evolution

Delhi’s demographic change and Chhath

Avijit Ghosh, Sun shines on fest of migrants: How politics has made Chhath Delhi’s own, November 14, 2018: The Times of India

Chhath rituals are rigorous and observed over four days. They include fasting and worshipping the setting and the rising sun.
From: Avijit Ghosh, Sun shines on fest of migrants: How politics has made Chhath Delhi’s own, November 14, 2018: The Times of India

The Yamuna bank swarms with a multitude of people and colours. A red carpet and smiling posters of Arvind Kejriwal and Manoj Tiwari welcome the worshipper on the path leading to the spruced-up ghats. Inside, a real estate group offers special discount on Chhath booking. Fasting women knee-deep in water pray to the Sun. Earthen lamps spread light and cheer on a cloudy afternoon. On the adjacent Vikas Marg, there’s a small traffic jam.

It wasn’t always like this. Two decades ago, Chhath Puja in Delhi was a low-key affair, hardly the spectacle of today. Politicians did not wish devotees in posters. In many cases, the users cleaned the ghats themselves.

Then, as rising migrant population altered the demographics of the national capital, its politics changed too. In 2003, Delhi had only three ‘Poorvanchali’ MLAs. The current assembly has at least 15 MLAs from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Delhi has an estimated 40 lakh migrants from these parts who also form the bulk of devotees. Since 2014, Chhath has been declared a public holiday by the state government.

A report released by the Delhi government this July says the administration spent Rs 6.30 crore on constructing Chhath Puja ghats in 2017. The anticipated cost for 2018 was estimated at Rs 16.18 crore. The Delhi government claims to have set up ghats in around 1,000 locations this year.

Chhath rituals are rigorous and observed over four days. They include fasting and worshipping the setting and the rising Sun. Some devotees prostrate every step on their way to the ghat. Environmentalists have pointed out that Chhath is an eco-friendly festival because no idols are immersed.

The Yamuna bank, among the largest gatherings of worshippers, is bedecked in an orange and white shamiana. Wicker baskets loaded with fruits and other offerings repose by their side. The shimmery sari is the preferred dress of the day. Everyone’s taking selfies, that great egalitarian expression of self-love nowadays.

Suddenly, someone carrying a child rushes to the stage set up for an evening musical show. “I found this girl,” says the Good Samaritan. She is crying. An announcement is made. “Tamanna, a girl in yellow jacket and red frock has been found.” Within five minutes, the mother comes rushing, apologetic.

The main performers of the evening are two Bhojpuri folk singers, Deepak Tripathi and Sanjoli Pandey. “Isn’t Manoj Tiwari coming?” someone asks. “He might. But does he have time for a full musical performance?” counters one of the organisers. The speakers spring to life but the words get drowned in the booming bass.

The cops are everywhere. A couple of them even patrol the river in a motor boat. Another two stand on a raised structure set up on a landmass in the middle of the river. They have the loneliest job of the evening.

As the dusk sets in, the lights from the ghat on the other side of the river gleam like an underwater mall. On Vikas Marg, the traffic tailback grows longer.



Drishti’s stops cleaning Goa’s beaches, government in a fix, November 14, 2018: The Times of India

Devotees perform Chhath puja before the setting Sun in Goa’s Miramar beach - 2018
From: November 14, 2018: The Times of India

Drishti Lifesaving has stopped beach cleaning services from Tuesday, a move that could leave the beaches dirty if no arrangement is put in place within the next two days. The agency had given prior notice.

Tourism minister Manohar Azgaonkar said the government has requested Drishti to continue for another month and a half. He told TOI that the tender for beach cleaning has been floated and scrutiny is under way. “Drishti has been asked to continue till a new agency is decided on,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Drishti said that its beach cleaning service agreement ended at sunset on November 12 (Monday) and that they had informed the government several days ago. “We have received no further intimation from the department in this matter,” an official said on Tuesday.

“We learnt that Drishti did not qualify to bid for the new beach cleaning tender due to the technical specifications. It’s unfortunate that Drishti is unable to bid despite the efficient service offered over the last two years,” a Drishti representative said.

Drishti was appointed as a stop gap arrangement in December 2016 after the government had discontinued the services of Mumbai-based contractors – Ram Cleaners and Developers Private Limited and Bhumika Clear Tech Services.

The beach cleaning tender was floated in October this year, inviting bids for comprehensive cleaning services of various beaches in the state for five year, almost two years after Drishti was given temporary charge of the exercise.

Administrative arrangements



This Chhath, devotees will have 1,000 ghats to pray at, November 10, 2018: The Times of India

Paras Singh, Not to be left behind, corpns also loosen their purse strings, November 10, 2018: The Times of India

Administrative arrangements made in Delhi for the Chhath Puja, 2018
From: This Chhath, devotees will have 1,000 ghats to pray at, November 10, 2018: The Times of India

Delhi Government Says People Won’t Have To Travel For Long Distances

To ensure that people do not have to travel long distances to perform Chhath Puja in 2018, Delhi government has set up 1,000 ghats, both permanent and temporary, across the capital.

Delhi Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti chairman Kamal Bansal said that last year the government had identified 609 locations for people to perform Chhath Puja. “This time, we have increased the number of ghats to 1,000. Devotees will not have to travel more than 1-2km this year to find a ghat to offer prayers,” he added.

Apart from the Yamuna banks, ghats have also been set up near several waterbodies. Also, ponds have been developed in parks owned by the three corporations, public works department and DDA. “The government is making all necessary arrangements, including tents, lights, and chairs where devotees can rest. The ghats along the river and waterbodies have also been cleaned,” Bansal said.

Development minister Gopal Rai on Friday inspected the Hathi Ghat near ITO to see the preparations made by the agencies concerned. He was accompanied by officials of the revenue and irrigation and flood control departments.

Rai said when Aam Aadmi Party formed the government in Delhi, there were only 60 ghats for lakhs of Poorvanchalis to offer prayers. “We have now ensured there are enough ghats for people to offer prayers. Adequate arrangements have been made to provide devotees a safe environment,” he added in a statement.

There are around 40 lakh Poorvanchali voters, natives of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who play a key role in elections in Delhi. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has released Rs 41.6 lakh for providing additional facilities at Chhath ghats situated under its 104 wards in south and west Delhi areas.

Mayor of the civic body Narender Chawla said that each organising committee will be provided Rs 40,000 for this purpose.

“The funds can be used for lighting the streets in and around the ghats, maintenance and related work,” Chawla said. All three civic bodies are also going to set up special coordination booths for this purpose.

Mayor of east and south corporations have written to the chief ministers of neighbouring states to improve water coming from Hindon and Munak canal. Former mayor Preety Agarwal said that Munak canal comes from Karnal to areas like Bawana, Rohini and Haiderpur before meeting Yamuna. “The canal is being cleaned up. The depth of the canal has increased which may cause problems for Chhath devotees. Around two lakh devotees can use this,” she added.

Despite being in tough financial position, cash-strapped east corporation had, announced that it will provide a support of Rs10,000 to every Chhath samiti for carrying out minor works. Mostly celebrated by Purvanchali community this is the only festival which gets financial support from corporations. With more than 30% voters in Delhi from Purvanchal, the migrant population comprising people from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is a huge vote bank no political party can afford to ignore — especially with the Lok Sabha elections less than 6 months away.

Meanwhile, mayors and top political functionaries of the corporations have started taking rounds of the ghats around the city.

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