The Jharkhand government allowed religious ceremonies on the banks of rivers, ponds and other public waterbodies for Chhath puja on Tuesday in the state. The latest development comes a day after several members of BJP staged a protest over the ban on Chhath puja celebrations on the banks of waterbodies in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The government was criticised by opposition parties after the State Disaster Management Committee issued a guideline on Sunday night saying that no one would be permitted to gather near waterbodies during the Chhath puja celebrations.
“We are protesting here against the order of the government to ban Chhath puja celebrations on the banks of water bodies. While standing into an unclean water body for almost one hour here, we are demonstrating ‘Jalashaya Hath Yoga’ against the decision. This is an attack on our beliefs,” news agency ANI had quoted Ranchi MP Sanjay Seth.
However, on Tuesday, the Chief Minister’s Office in a statement said that the guideline has been amended and now devotees are permitted to assemble on the banks of all types of waterbodies outside Containment Zones to celebrate Chhath festival.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren said that the Covid-19 menace is not yet over. He also appealed to the people of the state to follow coronavirus protocols – maintaining social distance and wearing masks – while celebrating the festival on the banks of all waterbodies.
However, the state government has not lifted various measures listed in the guideline such as bursting of firecrackers, setting up of stalls and holding cultural events near waterbodies, as reported by news agency PTI.
On Tuesday, the Jharkhand Chief Minister had chaired a meeting on holding the festival amid ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Disaster Management Minister Banna Gupta was present at the meeting.
At the meeting, Soren said that public sentiment is attached with the Chhath puja during which devotees gather on the banks of rivers, ponds, dams and lakes in the morning and the evening. In such a situation, arrangements have to be made for organising the festival safely, he added.
The BJP, which had condemned the state government earlier for not allowing congregation of worshippers near waterbodies during the festival, has now welcomed the new decision.
“At last the state government understood public sentiment,” PTI quoted BJP state president Deepak Prakash.
(With PTI, ANI inputs)