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Congress, BJP fight to attract north Indians to their Chhath Puja events on Mumbai’s Juhu beach

Both parties accuse each other of organising politically motivated celebrations on Thursday.

mumbai Updated: Oct 26, 2017 17:05 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
MUMBAI CHHAT PUJA
Chhath Puja celebrations in Mumbai in 2016.(HT File)

As north Indians across the country celebrate Chhath Puja on Thursday, in Mumbai, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are competing against each other to attract devotees, who gather on Juhu beach to pray obeisance to the sun god, to their respective events.

Both parties have accused each other of organising politically motivated celebrations. “Keeping the civic elections in mind, last year, the BJP organised a mammoth function. But now, as there are no elections in the near future, they have toned down their event,” said Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who heads the Bihari Front, which has been organising the event for the past two decades.

In turn, Amarjeet Mishra, general secretary of the Mumbai BJP and coordinator of the BJP-affiliated Chhath Puja Mahasangh, claims Nirupam has unnecessarily glamorised the religious festival. “It was Nirupam who introduced songs and dances at the religious event and spoilt its atmosphere,” Mishra said. “We celebrate the festival in a traditional manner, with yagna and bhajans.”

Mishra credits the BJP-led Maharashtra government of improving facilities for the celebrations, and said that now preparations are on a par with those made for Ganpati idol immersion. “It was chaos till our government came and improved facilities significantly,” Mishra said .

This year, the famous Bhojpuri film star Ravi Kishan, who was the star attraction for years at Nirupam’s event, will grace the BJP dais. “He will be coming as a BJP member, not as a film star,” said Mishra.

Chhath Puja is an important festival for people from Bihar, lakhs of who gather to worship the sun. As the city’s north Indian population grows, over the past few years, political parties have been trying hard to outshine each other and impress this community. In 2008, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had objected to grand Chhath Puja celebrations, alleging that north Indian migrants in the city were using the festival for a show of strength. He accused politicians of trying to build a north Indian constituency in Maharashtra to browbeat local Maharashtrians.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 13:01 IST