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Thousands throng Yamuna ghats in Delhi to offer prayers on Chhath

By 5 pm, the prayers were well underway. Women, men, children and the elderly all converged on the Yamuna’s banks to light diyas.

Written by Sarah Hafeez | New Delhi |
Updated: November 18, 2015 2:51:44 am
chhath, chhath puja, delhi, delhi chhath, chhat puja, chhat puja delhi, chhath puja delhi, delhi news Devotees offers prayers during Chhath puja on the banks of Yamuna on Tuesday. (Express Photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

On Tuesday afternoon, close to 50 ghats across the city wore an expectant look with tents erected on its banks to house Purvanchalis celebrating Chhath Puja. By 4 pm, the ghats were teeming with thousands of people.

Two women in their thirties, Asha and Meghna, were heard arguing animatedly at Geeta Ghat. “We have booked this place. You cannot settle here. Please take your samagri,” Asha told Meghna.

Paying no heed, Meghna proceeded to put down her wicker basket full of fruits, diyas and incense sticks for the sandhya arghya (evening offerings) to the sun god.

By 5 pm, the prayers were well underway. Women, men, children and the elderly all converged on the Yamuna’s banks to light diyas.

Women, who were fasting over the last few days, took a dip in the water while their relatives handed them fruits and food to be blessed with prayers.

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Those who had special prayers to ask of the sun god covered the distance between the entrance to the ghats and the Yamuna by prostrating on the soil and praying to the sun.

Meanwhile, city authorities were busy managing the crowd and traffic.

Senior police officers including acting Commissioner of Police Vimla Mehra and DCP (North) Madhur Verma visited the ghats when prayers were underway. Announcements asking parents to claim children who got lost in the crowd and to refrain from bursting crackers intermittently broke through songs dedicated to Chhatti Maiya. Hawkers, drummers and locals also took part in the celebrations.

The devotees were cordoned off from the deeper waters by a jute fencing. Three boats from the revenue services were on patrol as part of security measures and to record events at the Geeta Ghat.

“A fire tender, an ambulance, and PCR vans have been kept on standby. Close to 500 police personnel have been deployed on the Geeta and Kudesiya ghats near Kashmere gate ISBT in Wazirabad. CRPF forces have also been roped in. We will remain here till prayers accompanying the rising sun are over and the crowds have dispersed,” said the station house officer of Civil Lines police station.

Meanwhile by 7 pm on Tuesday, those camping at the ghats brought out their bedding, blankets, and bags. Ajay, a businessman who owns a bathroom fittings shop in Chawri Bazaar, could not get tickets to Muzaffarpur district in Bihar in time. “I had to do the puja here in Delhi. Kejriwal’s arrangements are good, I must say. The tents put up are enough for all the people here,” he said.

The age-old tradition of paying obeisance to the sun god, is observed mainly by people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. The capital has a sizeable population of people hailing from the two states.

The puja starts with the ritual of ‘Nahai-Khai’, in which devotees cook traditional food after bathing. The second day before Chhath puja is Kharna, in which devotees observe a day-long fast which ends after sunset.

On the third day, devotees stand in water and offer arghya to the setting sun amid prayers. On the final day, devotees assemble at the river bank before sunrise and offer arghya to the rising sun.

(with PTI inputs)

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