Subdued Chhath Puja festivities in city

Chhath Puja celebrations on Monday were subdued across the city following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday.

Puja organisers, who had planned to have high-profile programmes including songs and dances by leading stars cancelled their events. Juhu Beach saw devotees converging and praying along the seashore.

“I have tremondous respect for Balasaheb, so I dedicated the programme to his memory,” said Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam who has been in at the forefront of organising the festival. “I did not think it would be right to have songs and dances during this mourning period,” he added.

Mangleshwar Tripathi, president, Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad,  felt similarly. Tripathi said lively celebrations would have hurt the sentiments of the people. “Seeing the support Balasaheb commanded, it would have been improper to have a grand event,” he said.

Chhath is a festival dedicated to the sun god, where he is worshipped and thanked for bestowing blessings to people and for fulfilling their wishes.

Chhath puja celebrations have been controversial in the city ever since Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray described it a show of strength by north Indian leaders, and a bid to display before Maharashtrians their prowess. He also indulged in verbal war with former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav over the issue. Last year it, the controversy went further as Nirupam, finding that his posters were torn by Sena activists, dared the Thackerays to come out in the city’s streets without security cover.

Political observers call the muted celebrations a wise move. “They are going with the sentiments of the people,” said politics expert Prakash Bal.


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