March 22, 2023

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Artificial ponds, restricted entry: Chhath Puja celebrations different this year in Mumbai due to Covid

Chhath Puja in Mumbai was low-key at Walkeshwar in Mumbai pandemic as the organisers set up only two artificial ponds and provided only 100 entry passes at a playground near St Elizabeth’s Hospital for the devotees due to the coronavirus.
The playing ground near St Elizabeth’s Hospital at Walkeshwar in Mumbai was turned into a venue for Chhath Puja on November 20. It was perhaps for the first time that Chhath Puja was organised at this ground since the nearby Banganga water resource facility wasn’t available for the devotees this year.
What became the talking point was two artificial ponds that were set up for the Chhath Puja. Many had carried small water tubs to stand on and perform the puja. “Only one person per family has been allowed to enter the ground,” an organiser said.
India Today TV went to the playing ground to check the preparations for the Chhath Puja. While only 100 entry passes were provided to devotees on the ‘first come first serve’ basis, the organisers ensured that the devotees followed the rules. But it was clear that at times, it became difficult for them to manage the family members who wanted to stand guard for their fasting family members.
Announcements were made on a regular basis asking people to wear masks and maintain social distancing to avoid getting the coronavirus infection.
“This year, there is the fear of the coronavirus and hence, the things are not the same as previous years but we were able to perform the puja nicely,” a devotee said.
Another person, standing outside the playground gates, said, “My wife is fasting and she’s inside. But we have been told that only one person can go inside so I asked my daughter to be with her and I am keeping a watch from the gate.”
When asked if this was uncomfortable, he said, “We thought that even this arrangement wouldn’t be possible but somehow we managed to get the pass and we are here. So I am happy.”
A group of women devotees in the ground said that they had all prayed for the well being of the people. “This year, all we need is a corona-free India. That’s the only wish that we have.”
Seeing the coronavirus situation in the city, the civic body, as a precautionary measure, didn’t allow the devotees to conduct celebrations near the beaches.
The family members who performed puja at the sunset will again be performing puja at sunrise on Saturday morning.
A BMC official said the civic body was happy that the citizens cooperated. “We are thankful to the citizens of Mumbai for abiding by the rules and being cautious during various festivals this year. It’s because of their cooperation that we have managed to control the numbers.” the BMC official said.

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