Noida: Devotees wade into frothy waters of Yamuna river for Chhath rituals
Thousands of devotees turned up on the banks of Yamuna river at Kalindi Kunj bridge and at artificial ponds for the Chhath Puja rituals on Wednesday. Officials said since authorities banned the Chhath Puja celebrations on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi, hundreds of people poured over to the Noida side of the river bank for the rituals.
“There were at least one lakh people at Kalindi Kunj bridge in Noida. At least half of the crowd was from Delhi as Chhath puja celebrations were banned there. As a result, there was an unprecedented crowd at the river bank. Adequate police personnel were deployed to prevent any untoward incident,” said Ranvijay Singh, additional deputy commissioner of police, Noida.
The third day of Chhath Puja saw devotees offering ‘arghya’ to the Sun god in the evening. On Thursday, the festival will culminate with devotees praying to the rising sun. Some devotees decided to stay put at the ghats or artificial ponds on Wednesday night to perform the rituals on early Thursday morning.
Singh added that heavy police deployment was there on the banks of the river even at night.
“Over 200 constabulary and 100 police personnel have been deployed at artificial ponds as well as the banks of river Yamuna. At Kalindi Kunj, eight boats with local divers and flood platoon were also deployed as a precautionary measure,” said Singh.
Sumant Parimal, a resident of sector 119 who came to partake in the Chhath Puja celebrations at Kalindi Kunj said, “There was a huge crowd at banks as devotees performed the rituals in knee-deep water. However, the polluted froth on the river played spoilsport as it was sad to devotees taking a dip in filthy water”.
Alok Vatsa, president of Pravasi Mahasangh that held Chhath celebrations in Sector 25, said the footfall at the artificial pond here was unprecedented. “We were expecting about 20,000 people at the venue but there were about four times that figure of people there. About 10,000 people are expected to stay over the night and arrangements have been made for them as well,” he said.
However, in Greater Noida west, there was less crowd at the artificial pond created near Ek Murti Chowk. “There were about 300 families or 1,000 people at the pond for the Chhath Puja celebrations. The crowd was manageable and the puja went on smoothly,” said Abhishek Kumar, president of Purvanchal Pravasi Ektamanch.
Vishal Pandey, additional deputy commissioner of police, Greater Noida said there were about 5,000 to 6,000 people at Kasna canal for the Chhath rituals.
“The puja was carried out smoothly. There was heavy police deployment at all the ghats earmarked for Chhath Puja celebrations,” said Pandey.
When asked about violations of Covid protocol due to heavy crowd at the ghats in Gautam Budh Nagar, district magistrate Suhas LY said, “There is a sense of joy among devotees as they have got the opportunity to celebrate the festival with minimal restrictions this year compared to the last one. Self regulation is very important in following Covid protocols and we anticipated such a situation. Hence, a local public holiday was declared in the district for Wednesday”.