Several devotees paid their obeisance to the setting sun at around 600 ghats on the Yamuna banks on Chhath on Thursday, amid the aroma of burning incense and lilting of Bhojpuri folk songs. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and other ministers of the Delhi government visited the ghats to participate in the festivities and oversee the arrangements for devotees. The religious event assumed a political colour with BJP and Congress leaders visiting the ghats, and mainly meeting people from Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, popularly known as Purvanchalis, settled at New Delhi.
Delhi has around 40 lakh ‘Purvanchali’ voters, who play a key role in elections.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari and his team visited several ghats in the evening. Ajay Maken, president of the Delhi Congress also visited many ghats and interacted with people.
Tiwari sang devotional songs on Chhath during his visits to the ghats in Sonia Vihar and other areas.
The ritual of ‘Arghya’ was performed by the women folk observing fast, by offering cow milk, fruits and vegetables, standing in the water and facing the setting sun.
Innumerable earthen lamps were floated in the Yamuna, presenting a mesmerising scene.
The four-day Chhath will conclude with prayers and Arghya to the rising sun tomorrow.
Kejriwal visited ghats in several areas, including Qutab Vihar and Phase 1 Dwarka, while Sisodia went to Rajender Park and West Vinod Nagar.
Chhath is observed six days after Diwali and is a major festival of the ‘Purvanchalis’ settled in different parts of the country, including the national capital. Around 40 lakh Purvanchalis in Delhi are a major electorate and all the parties try to woo them.
Chhath began with the the ritual of ‘Nahai-Khai’ in which devotees prepare traditional food after bathing on October 24.
Traditionally, married women hold the fast of Chhath for long lives of their sons.
The second day is called ‘Kharna’, during which devotees observe a day-long fast which ends with sunset.
They then cook ‘kheer’ (pudding) and roti on earthen chullahs, which is then distributed as ‘prasad’. In the next two days prayers are offered to the Sun god while standing in rivers, ponds and other nearby waterbodies.
Chhath has gained in prominence and scale with growing clout of ‘Purvanchalis’ in Delhi. The AAP government made a separate budgetary allocation of Rs 20 crore for Chhath preparations and also declared a public holiday on the festival.
The BJP ruled civic bodies made extensive preparations on the occasion, with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation earmarking Rs 41.60 lakh for lighting of the Ghats.
This year the number of ghats where Chhath was held rose to 565 from 268 Ghats last year. There are 50 permanent ghats for the Puja, said a government official.