Lakhs of devotees throng ghats to celebrate Chhath Puja
Lakhs of devotees on Sunday offered prayers to the Sun on the ghats of the Ganga and other rivers and water bodies across Bihar on the occasion of Chhath.
In Patna, fasting men and women thronged the ghats of the Ganga and stood in waist-deep water to offer prayers to the setting Sun.
The state government made tight security arrangement for a smooth Chhath Puja on the third day of the four-day festival which began on Friday.
Family members and relatives were seen assisting the ‘Vratis’- those offering ‘arghya’ (obeisance) to the deity with home-made ‘thekua’, fruits, sugarcane and coconuts.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, accompanied by ministers and senior officials, inspected the ghats and rode a motorboat in the Ganga from Nasriganj to Gaighat and sought blessings of the ‘Vratis’ for the well-being of the state, an official statement said.
Chhath Puja was held at 1, Aney Marg, official residence of the chief minister, where Nitish Kumar’s Bhabi did the puja, which was more or less a private affair.
In a departure, the family of Kumar’s ally and RJD leader Lalu Prasad is not celebrating ‘Chhath’ at his 10 Circular Road residence, which used to be the centre of media attention every year.
A huge rush of devotees were seen on the banks of the Ganga during evening ‘Arghya’ in Patna. Similar scenes were witnessed in the districts, reports said.
After completion of evening ‘arghya’, devotees would return Monday morning before sunrise to offer ‘arghya’.
Elaborate arrangements were made by the municipal authorities to spruce up ghats across the city and roads leading to them. The ghats were barricaded to enable the worshippers and their families offer prayers in an orderly manner, official sources said.
Out of the capital’s 101 ghats, 20 ghats have been declared ‘dangerous’ as various watch towers and CCTVs have been installed to keep a close vigil.
“I am very happy to see the arrangement. Ghats are cleaned and have proper lighting. Temporary changing rooms have been made for devotees. Regular announcements are being made to remain alert,” said Abhishek Kumar, who came from Mumbai to his sister’s house in Patna to participate in the festival.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been posted at the ghats with boats and other equipment for rescue and relief operations, if needed, NDRF official sources said.