No cap on gatherings at Chhath Puja begins in Chandigarh
With the four-day Chhath Puja set to start in the city on Monday, the Chandigarh administration will be keeping a close watch to ensure Covid-19 protocol is followed by the organisers and devotees converging at the lake in Sector 42.
However, there will be no cap on the number of people allowed to gather at the lake as it is an open area, as long as they wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Last year, Covid-19 rules against overcrowding had been broken on the third day of the festivities when around 2,000 people turned up at the lake to offer prayers to the setting sun.
“We have approached various Purvanchal associations and advised them to tell the families to only send women for offering prayers, as it is the tradition, while men can stay at home to keep the numbers down. The venue has also been sanitised,” said a UT official, who did not wish to be named.
Subdivisional magistrate (south) Rupesh Kumar said: “While devotees can enjoy the festival, we will keep a close watch to ensure that all Covid-19 restrictions are followed. If any rule is broken, then action will be taken.” Cops will also be stationed at the venue, especially on the third day, to ensure all rules are followed.
Grand celebrations planned
Meanwhile, the organisers have planned the puja on the same scale as during the pre-pandemic times.
Purvanchal Welfare Association president DK Singh said: “After a lull last year, all organisers will come together to ensure grand celebrations. Unlike, four to five stages set up by different organisations to hold their cultural programmes, we will have only one stage with one programme this year. We will also serve food to those fasting and make proper arrangements for those coming to the lake.”
Singh said that with the municipal corporation elections set to happen next month, leaders of all political parties are expected to show up for the functions, but they will not be allowed to use the platform for campaigning.
The four-day festival is celebrated to honour the sun god and is especially popular with those hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. On the first two days, people hold celebrations and fasting at their homes. On the final two days, they converge at water bodies to offer prayers to the setting and rising sun.
Although, the number of Covid-19 cases saw a decline between Dussehra and Diwali in Chandigarh, medical experts have advised caution. According to them, in view of the incubation period of infection, cases might start rising a week after Diwali.